The first 11.57 miles of 17 Mile Road (
“Wyoming 137 is officially in tribal hands, and we will not be actively patrolling that roadway in the future,” said Capt. Tom Pritchard of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. “If there is a problem or an emergency, we will respond. We will not take routine enforcement actions in the future, such as speed enforcement.”
Under terms of the agreement between WYDOT and the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, the tribes have assumed maintenance and enforcement responsibilities of the rebuilt roadway.
The roadway is open to public use. The west end of 17 Mile Road, also known as Fremont County Road 334, remains under Fremont County jurisdiction for now.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation completed highway improvements on 8.58 miles of Wyoming 137 in 2008. Rice-Kilroy Construction, Inc., was the prime contractor on the $13.1 million project to rebuild 8.58 miles of Wyoming
A $1.34 million pavement improvement project from 17 Mile Road’s intersection with Wyoming 789, beginning at the traffic signal south of Riverton, was completed in 2013. Mountain Construction Co., of Lovell was the prime contractor on the 2.99-mile project from the Wyoming 137/Wyoming 789 intersection to St. Stephens Mission.
The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes funded completion of the 17 Mile Road Partnership Project with a federal TIGER III grant in November 2011. The $8.23 million grant funded the roadway improvements from the Little Wind River bridge at the east end of the project to Coolidge Canal at the west end of the project, which were completed in 2013.
Funding for the final project also came from Fremont County, State of Wyoming Tourism, and federal funding through the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Indian Reservation Roads program.
The final 17 Mile Road project was built nearly entirely by tribal workers, who were paid more than $3.7 million in wages for their successful efforts at improving what’s called the most important road on the Wind River Reservation.
Prior to being rebuilt, 17 Mile Road was historically called one of the most dangerous roadways in Wyoming. The roadway’s average fatality rate is twice the national average, and in the 10 years prior to completion, Tribal Transportation Director John Smith said 17 Mile Road had “numerous rollovers, car crashes and encounters with pedestrians and bicycles. This was due to the various safety issues of the roadway, including its narrow width and the absence of roadway shoulders and safety zones, and limited sight distance. As part of this project, a hazardous irrigation ditch in the right-of-way was also piped.”
Since reconstruction efforts were completed two years ago, 17 Mile Road is a modern highway that is the busiest roadway on the Wind River Reservation, and it is one of the safest highways in Wyoming.