Funding solutions for I-80 sought in Wyoming

| 1/3/2007

Wyoming lawmakers will discuss how the state should maintain Interstate 80 during the regular session that starts next week.

The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee offered a bill for the session beginning Jan. 9 that would establish a select panel to study how to maintain Wyoming's 400 miles of the roadway.

The panel of highway professionals, lawmakers and state highway commissions would have six to eight months and $100,000 to come up with a solution.

The decision by lawmakers to introduce the bill followed talks with the Wyoming Department of Transportation that the state needs to develop a long-term maintenance plan for I-80 that is separate from plans for other roads and highways, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Plans for long-term maintenance for the highway could include upgrading the asphalt to a sturdier concrete, adding a third lane in each direction, building alternate routes, or diverting truck traffic to rail. Tolling also was mentioned for further study.

The amount of truck traffic along the only direct highway route through the upper Midwest is among the concerns lawmakers have about how to maintain I-80.

The daily traffic count from Laramie to Cheyenne tops 12,800, the Star-Tribune reported. That amount is expected to increase by more than 35 percent during the next 20 years.

Large trucks account for half of I-80 traffic and is expected to grow to 60 percent in the next two decades.

The bill - HB24 - will start in the House Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee for consideration.