Officials have narrowed the list of potential designs for the proposed Tribal Trail Connector road after determining some options would cause insurmountable harm to wetlands in the area.

The eliminated designs were chiefly those that proposed a road connecting the Tribal Trail Connector to the Indian Springs subdivision access road, crossing over a “fen” with important habitat.

Officials determined that route would cause irresolvable environmental impacts that they deemed a “fatal flaw.”

“They’re almost impossible to mitigate,” consultant Jim Clarke said.

Remaining alternatives show underpasses below Highway 22 at Coyote Canyon and Tribal Trail, or a roundabout at Tribal Trail and Highway 22 with an underpass at Coyote Canyon.

Next, the Tribal Trail stakeholder group will analyze how the remaining options satisfy the purpose and need of the project while balancing environmental impacts.

For example, members of the group will consider how the various options minimize safety concerns, impact private land and reduce vehicle miles traveled.

That analysis will be vetted by the public at an open meeting, Teton County Public Works Director Heather Overholser said.

Then the stakeholder group will consider that public feedback in producing a preferred alternative to forward to the Teton County Board of County Commissioners for approval or disapproval.

At that juncture, the county board has the option to halt the planning process.

In April 2018, county commissioners signed on to an agreement with the Wyoming Department of Transportation essentially contracting the department as a consultant to complete the project on behalf of Teton County.

WYDOT in turn hired a team of consultants to study the road, including Jacobs Engineering and Morrison-Maierle.

The project will follow not only the county transportation plan’s project charter review process but also the National Environmental Policy Act review process, which may be mandated if the project receives federal funds or requires a wetlands impact permit.

The controversial Tribal Trail Connector would extend an existing road to link South Park Loop to Highway 22. It’s identified as a high priority in the Comprehensive Plan and Integrated Transportation Plan. It also marks the first capital project from the transportation plan to be pursued, making the planning process somewhat of a “guinea pig,” Overholser said.

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

(1) comment

James Peck

Indian Springs just took down hundreds of yards of barbed wire to facilitate wildlife migration right next to Tribal Trail. And yet we push ahead with this road. One step forward, two steps back. No matter how much any given society values wildlife, the humans always win.


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