Asphalt repair work on the Old Pass Road located in the Teton Pass area on the Bridger-Teton National Forest is scheduled to begin July 2, 2012. Due to the presence of machinery and fresh asphalt, temporary closures will be necessary. The work is expected to be completed in 4-5 days and during that time, trail users will be directed to alternate trails such as the Crater trail. Signing will be in place on the road to help direct trail use and trail ambassadors will be on-site during the day to help assist visitors and answer questions.
In 2013, the Old Pass Road will be 100 years old. The Old Pass Road was initially built by the Forest Service in 1913 and improved in 1928. It served as the main transportation connection between Jackson Hole and railways in Victor Idaho until 1969 when the current Teton Pass highway was completed. As an abandoned paved road, the Old Pass Road now provides a unique experience for walkers seeking a wide, smooth path in a forested setting and for bicyclists seeking a quiet, safe alternative to riding on Highway 22.
However, more than 40 years of little to no maintenance has taken its toll, as drainage ditches have filled in and the asphalt surface has deteriorated. In 2011, the Forest Service authorized Silver Star Communications to use the Old Pass Road corridor for installation of high-speed fiber optic cable to improve connectivity of broadband service across Wyoming. In return, Silver Star agreed to leave the Old Pass Road in better condition for trail users by improving drainage ditches and repairing some asphalt. Interested trail users seized the opportunity to build on Silver Star’s work. Thus, the Old Pass Road Repair Project is now a collaborative effort between Silver Star, the Forest Service and the Jackson Hole community.
The goal is to ensure the asphalt surface lasts for another 40+ years by making the investment now while the asphalt can still be repaired. Trail users can expect to see a number of new asphalt patches where the surface has deteriorated. Approximately 20 patches are planned along the 3.5 mile Old Pass Road. During June, work occurred to prepare for the asphalt repair including significant contribution from volunteers on National Trails Day, drainage ditch work, clearing and spraying vegetation, and cleaning loose debris off the road.
Although there will be some disruption for those who use the Old Pass Road daily while the repair work is occurring, District Ranger Dale Deiter said that this type of public-private-community partnership is a good demonstration of groups coming together to invest in the future of a public resource that will benefit everyone in the long-run.