Project Description and Context
The Tensleep-Buffalo Highway (U.S. 16) is a rural two-lane highway that leads into the Big Horn National Forest in north-central Wyoming. The roadway is classified as a rural arterial, with a posted speed limit of 55 mi/hr and reduced speed limits in some locations. A wide variety of motorists use the highway, including logging operators and drivers of other heavy trucks, U.S. Forest Service personnel, school bus drivers, tourists, outdoor recreation users, and bicyclists. The design year (2019) traffic volume was 2,080 vehicles per day, with 23 percent truck traffic.
The Tensleep-Buffalo Highway is situated within the Rocky Mountains in extremely challenging topography. Much of the highway lies between a steep cut on the north side and a deep canyon on the south (Figure 83). The area has immense natural resources and spectacular scenery and views. The highway is designated as the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway through the southern part of the Big Horn National Forest (Figure 84).
A 9-mile (14.4-km) segment of the highway was reconstructed in 2004. Reasons for the project included pavement replacement and safety improvements, because the highway had a higher–than–state–average crash rate.
The steep cut on the north side of the highway and deep canyon on the south illustrate the difficult terrain faced by designers.
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