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Proposed Bill Considers Tolling Along Interstate 80

Wikipedia Creative Commons, by Greg Younger

A proposed bill before the Wyoming Legislature this session is considering tolling along Interstate 80.

Between paving, plowing, and other tasks, Wyoming spends upwards of $70 million a year maintaining its stretch of I-80. That's even though much of its traffic is just passing through. But a new bill filed in the run up to the 2020 legislative session would open the door to raising that money via tolls on the interstate.

Senate File 6 was endorsed by the Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs committee, which is co-chaired by State Senator Michael Von Flatern of Gillette. He said maintaining the interstate is an expensive job.

"The 580,000 people that are in the state pay for the maintenance of I-80, that 407 miles that runs across our state," Von Flatern said. "We probably don't have enough people to be paying for that.

Revenue raised through tolls would have to be used for interstate maintenance. But Von Flatern says the money currently spent on I-80 by the state would be freed up for road maintenance elsewhere in Wyoming.

"But that frees up $32 million of money that we do spend on that road and that $32 million can go to other roads in the state," he said.

Von Flatern said the bill would not go so far as to establish tolls on I-80. That would still require legislative approval. An unrelated bill originating in the house seeks to increase the state fuel tax.

The 2020 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature starts Monday.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor, at jvictor@uwyo.edu.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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