County board signs Bishop Road funding blueprint agreement

Campbell County Board of Commissioners discusses Bishop Road plans at the Aug. 2 meeting. Road and Bridge Executive Director Kevin Geis (left) and Public Works Director Matt Olsen are in the foreground. (GPA)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Campbell County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a cooperative agreement regarding Bishop Road with Prairie Eagle Mining.

The agreement establishes responsibilities and funding to construct and reconstruct the Campbell County’s Bishop Road from WYO 59 to an existing portion of Bishop Road. It now goes to Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s office.

Public Works Director Matt Olsen said at the board meeting that the governor’s office hasn’t yet determined the process of funding and the agreement may ultimately need some amendments. The blueprint agreement gets the discussion going and helps arrange the funding, he said.

Chairman Del Shelstad said he talked with Gordon at the National High School Finals Rodeo. He said Gordon said the project is a priority for Campbell County and the state of Wyoming. He said moving the road to allow access to millions of tons of coal in the mine would bring in significant tax dollars to the county and the state.

Under the agreement, the state would provide $5 million to Campbell County. Prairie Eagle Mining would pay up to $2.5 million to Campbell County during the project. Campbell County would pay up to $2.5 million. Any funding required over $10 million would be borne by Prairie Eagle Mining. The new roadway may consist of a gravel section and remain unpaved for up to two years, unless the County agrees to further delay or waive such paving requirement. As long as the road is unpaved, Prairie Eagle Mining must take complete any major settlement road maintenance and perform dust abatement on the roadway and at Belle Ayr Mine.

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Olsen said that since the roadway will cross backfill and an old high wall, which are prime areas where the county has historically seen significant roadway settlement. Therefore, they’re using gravel instead, to allow settlement to occur before paving the roadway, he said.

Roadway designers with Prairie Eagle Mining will need the county’s approval on their plans for making the gravel section a hard section, Olsen said. Still, there may be scattered potholes, he said.

Prairie Eagle Mining, which is “very good at moving dirt,” is very cognizant of what the section looks like, Olsen said. The company is carefully assessing historical snow drifts on this section to limit drifting as much as possible, he said.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Olsen said. “Our intent is for this to be a very nice county road.”