Wyoming looks for ways to avoid I-80 backups

| 8/21/2002

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is brainstorming for ideas to keep a section of I-80 in the state's southeast corner open during some winter storms or in the event of vehicle crashes. WYDOT personnel have met to exchange ideas and status reports as more monthly meetings are planned in the future.

The growing use of "just-in-time delivery" by businesses to cut their inventory costs has made it more important than ever to keep traffic moving, Director Sleeter Dover said in a released statement. Policies and procedures are being worked out to balance that need with the state patrol's concern for the safety of drivers and investigators at crash sites. Increasing maintenance and highway patrol personnel in the area and upgrading equipment are among the steps being considered.

One change already agreed upon as a likely improvement is setting a time limit for removing crash wreckage from the highway. If the wreckage isn't removed with the time limit WYDOT would use its equipment to push the wreckage off the highway, Dover said. One other proposal for getting traffic around storms and wreckage is using a section of U.S. 30 as an alternate route.

One recommendation to help prevent crashes is more widespread use of message signs at strategic locations to alert drivers to conditions ahead and recommend safe speeds. Adding flashing lights to call attention to signs advising drivers to tune their radios to 1610 to hear updated road conditions and closure information via highway advisory radio stations also is recommended.