Wyoming governor approves multilane highway effort

| 3/2/2005

Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed a scaled back version of legislation Feb. 25 that will accelerate funding for multilane highway projects in Wyoming.

The new law, previously SF127, calls for a one-time infusion of $7 million for engineering and constructing multilane highways. The revenue will come from the state’s Budget Reserve Account.

Sen. Gerald Geis, R-Worland, recently told The Associated Press the new law 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.

The original language of the bill offered much more money for roads.

Sponsored by Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, the original version would have diverted $36 million in federal mineral tax income a year for four-lane projects, with no end date.

After numerous amendments, the House and Senate settled on the $7 million figure.

In addition, the Senate also removed 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.