Wyoming speeds set to increase to 80 mph on July 1

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/27/2014

On Tuesday, July 1, truckers and others traveling on Wyoming’s rural interstates can legally travel 80 mph.

Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill into law in March to permit 80 mph speeds for all travelers on certain highway segments – up from 75 mph.

Neighboring Utah and Texas are the only other states that allow vehicles to travel 80 mph or higher on portions of roadway. Neighboring Idaho is also preparing to implement an 80 mph speed limit for cars on some stretches of interstate. Trucks will be limited to 70 mph on affected stretches.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is continuing to study what sections of the state’s 900 miles of interstate highway can handle the higher speed limit. For now, nearly 500 miles of interstates 25, 80 and 90 have faster speeds authorized.

Affected stretches (map):

  • I-25 north of Cheyenne to south of Douglas, 117 miles (mileposts 18-135);
  • I-25 north of Douglas to south of Casper, 44 miles (mileposts 141-185);
  • I-25 north of Casper to south of Buffalo, 107 miles (mileposts 190-297);
  • I-80 east end of Bridger Valley to west of Green River, 34 miles (mileposts 48-82);
  • I-80 east of Rock Springs to west of Wamsutter, 55 miles (mileposts 110-165);
  • I-80 east of Cheyenne to west of Pine Bluffs, 27 miles (mileposts 373-400);
  • I-90 east of Buffalo to west of Gillette, 64 miles (mileposts 59-123); and
  • I-90 east of Gillette to between Moorcroft and Sundance, 40 miles (mileposts 130-170).

Highway Patrol Administrator Col. John Butler said that drivers should not count on leniency if they operate at higher speeds.

“The safety and welfare of the motoring public is a priority to the Wyoming Highway Patrol,” Butler said in a news release. “Therefore, the 80 mph speed limit will be strictly enforced.”

WYDOT plans to install or change more than 125 signs starting Tuesday. The agency warns drivers that during the multi-day transition, the 75 mph speed limit will remain in force until the new signs are in place.

State lawmakers acted early this year to authorize the state DOT to conduct a study of the three rural interstates to determine where an 80 mph speed limit would be appropriate. Factors considered in the study were roadway characteristics, including curves, grades, width and proximity of interchanges, as well as traffic patterns, including current average speeds, traffic volumes and proportion of commercial trucks and passenger vehicles.

WYDOT estimates that most vehicles traveling on rural portions of interstate throughout the state already drive 79 mph.

The agency is continuing to study two other sections of interstate where a speed limit increase could be possible. One section, measuring 46 miles, is 1-80 from west of Rawlins to just west of Walcott Junction. The other section, measuring 17 miles, is I-90 from east of Sundance to the South Dakota state line.

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