Four-lane highway effort advances in Wyoming

| 2/17/2005

A Wyoming House panel has approved a scaled-back version of a bill that would accelerate funding for multilane highway projects. The measure has been sent to the full House for consideration.

Sponsored by Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, the bill would spend $20 million, one-time, for engineering and constructing multilane highways. The revenue would come from the state’s Budget Reserve Account.

The original language of the bill would have diverted $36 million in federal mineral tax income a year for four-lane projects, with no end date.

The bill – SF127 – passed the House Appropriations Committee Feb. 15 on a 4-3 vote. It previously passed the Senate.

Sen. Gerald Geis, R-Worland, recently told The Associated Press the measure – SF127 – would help parts of the state lacking interstate highways, while Sen. Jayne Mockler, D-Cheyenne, termed the bill an appropriate use of extra money the state is receiving due to greater mineral wealth.

The cost to widen existing two-lane roads into four lanes is about $2 million per mile, said Del McOmie, chief engineer for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

At that cost, McOmie said new dollars would pay for only a few miles of work.

Von Flatern’s bill was amended by the Senate to remove reference to four-lane highways; “multilane” was substituted because some areas might allow only enough room for three lanes. Other segments might be widened to five lanes.