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Transportation Secretary visits Cheyenne to highlight investment on Highway 30

A woman stands to the left of a man as they're photographed by onlookers.
David Dudley
/
Wyoming Public Radio
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg poses for pictures after a media briefing in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on June 17, 2024.

Efforts to improve safety and efficiency along Highway 30 in Cheyenne are nearing completion. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Cheyenne this week to see how the project is coming along on Highway 30, which intersects multiple times with Interstate 80, as it winds through Wyoming from Kemmerer to Pine Bluffs.

In an exclusive interview with Wyoming Public Radio, Buttigieg said that the nation is in the midst of a roadway fatality crisis.

The Cowboy State ranked second in the nation for highway crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2022. It’s also the state with the highest percentage of crash deaths on rural roads, according to the study.

A spate of fatal vehicle collisions in 2018, paired with population growth in east Cheyenne, spurred action to update Highway 30, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation spokesperson.

"The most important thing is there's a safety benefit," Buttigieg said. "The way that this highway was originally designed is not the same way that you would want it to be today, especially when you consider the growth that's taking place in and around the Cheyenne region."

The capital city's population grew from 92,246 residents in 2010 to 100,948 in 2023, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That's a little more than 10,000 residents, with more expected as Meta's 945-acre data center is under construction just south of Cheyenne.

Buttigieg and his team visited a section of the highway that has been widened to five lanes, which includes two lanes in each direction, left turn lanes and a median. Additionally, a traffic light was installed at U.S. 30 and Whitney Road. The speed limit in the area has been lowered from 55 mph to 45 mph.

The project was funded by $14.9 million from Pres. Joe Biden’s infrastructure law. This phase of construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, with crews returning in 2025 to complete chip sealing.

Buttigieg said this is one of many investments the U.S. Department of Transportation has made in the Cowboy State since Pres. Biden was elected in 2020.

"But we've got a long way to go and these kinds of road and highway improvements are an important part of how we can continue to drive those numbers down," said Buttigieg.

The federal government has invested $3.8 billion into Wyoming infrastructure, including roads, bridges, Internet and airports, in the past four years.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.

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