Wyoming releases proposal highway work

| 8/8/2006

The Wyoming Department of Transportation has released a tentative plan of highway projects that would require nearly $240 million during the next year to complete. The announcement was made despite the uncertainty of federal funding and the unpredictability of inflation.

The tentative roadwork plan was recently released for public review. At the end of the review period, the plan will go before the state Transportation Commission in September for approval.

Included in the plan are proposed construction projects on 440 miles of roads and safety improvements for fiscal year 2007, The Associated Press reported. It also provides a glimpse of planned projects for the next four years and beyond.

Del McOmie, chief engineer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said he expects the plan to undergo multiple revisions during the fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. McOmie cited money issues for the revisions.

Among the issues causing uncertainty about available dollars are soaring construction costs and ongoing negotiations about federal funding for highway projects next year, The AP reported.

McOmie said inflation in construction costs have more than doubled between 1998 and 2004 and increased another 50 percent in 2005. He also said that asphalt oil has increased from $250 a ton earlier this year to nearly $500.

The end result of the higher costs is less money to be used for planned roadwork, McOmie said.

To help compensate for some of the escalating costs, the Wyoming Legislature this year tacked on an additional $75 million for roadwork.

“Had we not got that $75 million you'd see a much, much reduced program,” McOmie told The AP.