By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
The city of Rock Springs was thanked by a veteran trucker for its hospitality during a road closure that forced hundreds of semi-drivers to stay put in the community for more than two days.
The winter storm which caused more than 90 accidents on Interstate 80 two weeks ago brought traffic to a standstill all across Wyoming’s busiest highway.
That meant hundreds of truckers were stuck in Rock Springs waiting for the roads to open.
When that happens it can be chaos or it can be smooth operation. Thanks to a plan developed by the City of Rock Springs a few years ago to get stranded truckers the food and supplies they need, more often than not, it’s the latter.
Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that an appreciative letter written by a 36-year veteran truck driver thanking the community for its hospitality is great feedback for the many people who band together to help the stranded motorists.
“We have a great group of individuals in emergency management, the fire department, the police department, the city of Rock Springs, and the (Sweetwater) Events Complex folks,” Kaumo said.
The letter, written by Kimberly Davis, said she was grateful to the city for its assistance while she was sidelined for more than two days.
“I just wanted to thank the city for its hospitality,” Davis wrote. “I hope you will pass on my thanks to the folks who brought meals out to the many drivers who were here with me.”
“You have my gratitude and after 36 years in this career, I can say I’ve ever been treated with the care of any community the way I was in your city,” she wrote.
“I will always remember this past weekend and the concerns of your citizens,” she said.
Kaumo said the town was “inundated” by truckers as a result of the storm but with the assistance of the workers from various government agencies, drivers were able to find food, fuel, medical care, and anything else they needed.
“We’re used to road closures and we do everything we can to get information out there so truckers know where to park and where food vendors know where to set-up,” he said.
“When roads are shut down for two to three days at a time, it gets hectic,” he said. “But we’ve got a plan that seems to work pretty well.”
Kaumo said usually there is enough parking space available at the Sweetwater Events Complex to handle the traffic.
In the rare instance where more space is needed, he said the city will find parking spots at a recreation facility and other locations.
The mayor said the city works closely with the Wyoming Department of Transportation to coordinate when the state agency initiates a “rolling closure”.
This type of road closure is staggered so one community along the highway doesn’t get all of the traffic, which can put a strain on service stations, restaurants, and hotels in communities where the traffic is backed up.
Kaumo said the effort not only builds teamwork across the community but the city’s coffers as well.
“It is good for the community and it generates sales tax which funds city government,” he said.
“We have a great city and we work very well together in crisis situation,” Kaumo said. “We have proven that time and time again.