Effort to study I-80 improvements canned in Wyoming

| 3/21/2007

A bill has been put to rest in Wyoming that sought to establish a select panel to study how to maintain Interstate 80 in the state.

The state's Senate voted 19-9 to kill the bill - HB24 - that earlier passed the House by unanimous consent.

The panel of highway professionals, lawmakers and state highway commissions would have had six to eight months and $100,000 to come up with a solution for how to pay for the state's 400 miles of the roadway.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation called on the state 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.

Opponents of the planned study said WYDOT should be able to determine on its own what needs to be done to the roadway.