A stretch of Interstate 80 that frequently sees hazardous winter driving conditions and crashes will be getting improvements aimed at reducing those incidents.
The project will add passing lanes and truck parking areas on a 45-mile section of the road between Laramie and Rawlins. According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), there have been more than 2,600 crashes along just this stretch of road over the last decade.
Shelby Carlson, the chief engineer at the WYDOT, said improvements will better control the flow of traffic following a winter closure.
"Because a lot of times we open it, we get a secondary crash and we have to close it right back down. And so the goal is to keep I-80 open and keep traffic moving," said Carlson.
Part of that means thinning out traffic and controlling when trucks reenter the highway after bad weather.
"We are looking at where they'll come out of these truck parking areas, so we'll kind of feed them out slowly so that we don't just open the gate and then all the traffic that has been stopped is just lined up, and they all just go at once," she said.
Another part of the problem according to Carlson is that right now there aren't many places for big rigs to get off the road and park.
"We want to provide parking areas where these trucks can safely get off of the highway or the interstate and park their trucks and sleep or wait a storm out, whichever they're doing," Carlson said.
WYDOT received a $20 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grant from the federal government to complete the project. It is expected to cost around $31 million total, with the rest coming from other state and federal funds. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2021.