JACKSON, Wyo. — In a 4-1 vote last Tuesday, the Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted to turn over management control of the Tribal Trail Connector (TTC) to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and integrate the project study into the WY22 Jackson to Wilson Corridor Project.
Teton County gave up its sole decision-making authority on the project and will serve instead in an advisory capacity to WYDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through staff of Teton County Public Works.
The connector road Tribal Trails, which has been the topic of public debate in recent years, would connect WY22 to South Park Loop Road.
Those for the connector say it will ease congestion on WY22, while those against it are concerned that it will cross sensitive wetlands and only transfer through traffic to neighborhood roads.
Environmental groups such as the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance recommended that the TTC planning be delayed until the WYDOT Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) study on WY22 options and recommendations are available, because mitigation options on 22 may minimize the need for a Tribal Trail connector.
With the county’s vote Tuesday, unless the National Environmental Protection Act process results in a preferred alternative which is the “No-Build alternative” for TTC, the TTC will be constructed, and in coordination with the WY22 Jackson to Wilson Corridor project construction.
A county staff report described WYDOT’s interest in taking over the project.
“WYDOT is interested in cooperating with Teton County on this project to achieve a solution that will most safely and effectively serve the traveling public on both WYO 22 and the Tribal Trails Connector (to remain a county road).”
As proposed by WYDOT, merging all or specific elements of the TTC project into the WYO 22 Jackson to Wilson Corridor planning would allow for the TTC project to be planned concurrently with the larger WY22 Jackson to Wilson Corridor improvements, as many public comments have requested.
“Previously, the timeline of the WY22 Jackson to Wilson Corridor planning process was not in sync with that of the TTC planning process; however, WYDOT’s relatively recent advancement of the WY22 process by several years makes the incorporation of TTC into that project a possible course of action.”Teton County Staff Report
Luther Propst, who was the sole vote against the motion, stated that the move was “grossly premature” and that the loss of the county’s control on the majority of the process could pose dramatic risks to Teton County’s ability to control the process and outcomes.