WYDOT

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Sheridan's Main Street reconfiguration test was found to be successful from both the community and the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT). That's according to the results of both a community survey and data from WYDOT.

Lpangelrob via CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is currently working on its master plan that would cover the department's vision for the next five years. But in the meantime, WYDOT has released its list of the projects it wants to tackle in 2020. Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler spoke with WYDOT director Luke Reiner about how the State Transportation Improvement Plan shows how the department is struggling with a lack of funding.

Catherine Wheeler

The Wyoming Legislature's joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee met for an interim session in Gillette this week.

WYDOT

WYDOT is working to reopen portions of Interstate 80 and Interstate 25 following this week’s massive snowstorm.

Matt Murphy is with WYDOT District 1 in Southeast Wyoming. He says his department’s main priority is clearing snow drifts on I-80, some reaching as high as 10 feet. And the wind complicates things.   

“It looks like the high wind is supposed to continue for most of the day today. And that’s going to just kind of prolong the drifts and contribute to poor visibility especially in our wind-prone areas,” said Murphy.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

 

 

Wyoming experienced 16 highway fatalities in January. Although fatalities have been declining overall, that's a relatively high number to start the year off with according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol. There was a total of 108 highway fatalities in 2018. WYDOT and the Highway Patrol are urging drivers to practice safe driving, especially during winter months.

WYDOT

A crash on Interstate 80 Wednesday morning has left westbound lanes closed between Rawlins and Laramie. US 30 north of Laramie and westbound lanes of I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne were also closed to help with truck traffic and congestion.

The National Guard

Driving many of the highways of the Mountain West, it's common to be a lone car surrounded by semi-trucks. But that could change. The trucking industry is facing a record shortage of drivers right now.

Bob Costello is the Chief Economist at the American Trucking Associations. He said if current trends hold,the shortage of drivers could surpass 174,000 by 2026.

"If you're short bottled water what happens to the price of bottled water? It goes up," Costello said.

Wyoming Secretary of State's Office

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation will designate a 19 mile stretch of Highway 28 in Fremont County as the "Wyoming Women's Suffrage Pathway."

Wikipedia Creative Commons, by Greg Younger

According to a new analysis from the website SafeWise, an online resource that provides information on safety for communities, Wyoming ranks as the most dangerous state for driving in snow.

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Employees of Yellowstone National Park and park concessions company Xanterra will have easier access to some Wyoming Department of Transportation services next year.

WYDOT Director Bill Panos said his department is currently working to make it easier for employees living at Yellowstone National Park headquarters in Mammoth Hot Springs to get Wyoming driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.

Tennessee Watson

Wyoming’s stretch of Interstate 80 is notorious for dicey weather conditions and heavy truck traffic. But it’s also a great place to study how to make driving safer, and that’s why it’s the testing site for a collaboration between the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the University of Wyoming.

 

287 Lander Southeast
WyDOT

Traffic got back to normal yesterday, according to Wyoming’s Department of Transportation. Officials reported historic levels of traffic Monday, the 21, following the solar eclipse or a 68 percent increase of overall traffic compared to the five-year average for the third Monday in August — much of that concentrated in central, western, and southern Wyoming.

Doug McGee, public affairs manager for WYDOT, said visitors started entering the state in larger numbers last Wednesday, picking up each day leading to the eclipse.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Heavy eclipse traffic in Wyoming caused slower travel than usual. Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Doug McGee said on Sunday alone traffic counts increased by more than 27 percent compared to the five-year average statewide. But certain areas saw exponential increases. For example, north of Laramie on U.S. 30-287 traffic increased by 214 percent on Sunday according to WYDOT.

Kate Russo, a self-described eclipse chaser, said she is coming to Wyoming to watch the eclipse because of the state’s normally sunny August weather and impressive vistas.

“When you look at the whole path of totality, when you think about where would be the most ideal beautiful location to see such an amazing, awesome nature event, obviously Grand Teton National Park really stood out. And it stood out for many, many, many people,” said Russo.

Mike Wood

A blizzard in the Beartooth Mountains outside Cody, trapped snow plow drivers and even the tow truck that came to pull them out. An amazing rescue saved one plow truck driver who spent all night in the cab of his plow. He survived deadly cold and wind.

In Cody on Monday morning, just as temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in four days, blinding blowing snow trapped a big backhoe in a drift, and it had to be pulled out with another rig.

WYDOT

Avalanches can be dangerous and shut down highways on many of the roads going in and out of the Jackson area, especially on Highway 191 through Hoback Canyon. But in the last few years, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has been installing new technology there that’s helped control the problem.

Avalanche technician Jamie Yount said in 2013, they installed the first remotely controlled avalanche exploders in North America. He said the new equipment now allows WYDOT to trigger avalanches on their own schedule and on a closed highway.

TLLAMWY (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Construction for a long awaited replacement bridge from the east side of Laramie to the west is about to begin. The current Clark street bridge that runs over Laramie’s train tracks has connected the city the city for 53 years, but faced a number of safety concerns. The new bridge will be located on Harney street.

Wyoming Department of Transportation engineer Steve Cook said the current structure is too weak for rehabilitation and its materials will not be used in the construction of the new bridge.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

The Wyoming Department of Transportation has released a new smartphone app to provide users with travel information and road conditions. Users of the app can plan their trip according to road conditions through WYDOT's map feature. The app, called 'Wyoming 511,' can read aloud updates about conditions via text message.

A new federal transportation bill working its way through congress should provide more money to Wyoming. Interim Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos says in highway funding alone the bill provides the state with an increase of 24 million dollars.

“That’s a boon for Wyoming and will help us improve the highway system in our state, preserve what we have invested in over the last few years and make our highways safer.” 

It will also provide the state with additional funding for a variety of other projects said Panos.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is working with federal officials on a project to make driving safer. The plan is to use interactive technology to tell drivers about road and weather conditions as well as safety information. Wyoming is focusing on making travel safer along Interstate 80. 

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Portions of US 20 and Wyoming 789 are closed after several mudslides over the weekend in the Wind River Canyon.

Wet weather and storms over Memorial Day Weekend triggered the slides, which damaged roadways, guardrails, railroads, and pipes.

Cody Beers with the Wyoming Department of Transportation says because of the holiday weekend, it was tougher to get the word out via traditional media outlets. So WYDOT got creative.

Robert Verzo via Flickr

Governor Matt Mead is proposing adding passing lanes to some of the state’s highways including Highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette. Mead’s budget proposal would use 21 million dollars in state funds for the upgrades.

Jim Willox is the Chairman of the Converse County Commissioners and says the proposed lanes would ease the surge in energy traffic on the 170 mile highway.

Flickr Creative Commons

Six of Wyoming’s ten airports have seen declines in traffic this past year, according to a new Wyoming Department of Transportation report. But full flights at Jackson’s airport, by far Wyoming’s biggest, means that the state’s overall air traffic is actually up slightly from 2013.

jacdupree via Flickr

Wyoming ranks first in the nation for its overall road system. That’s according to a new study from the Reason foundation, a Libertarian-leaning think tank.

David Hartgen is a professor at the University of North Carolina and the author of the study. He says Wyoming ranked so well in part because it budgets wisely. The cowboy state has over 7000 miles of roads to maintain, but spends about half as much as the average state does to do it.

Construction will begin Wednesday in Cheyenne on a new quiet zone at West Lincolnway and Southwest Drive’s railroad crossing, where train noise will be kept to a minimum. The area around the intersection is home to several hotels and motels. New railroad crossing gates and a barrier wall will block cars from sneaking around the shut gates and across the tracks.

The new Wyoming 80 mile per hour speed limit will go into effect July first. It will impact large sections of I-25, I-80, and I-90.

Del McOmie of the Department of Transportation says the speed limits were approved by the legislature after a D.O.T. study looked at the impacts on roads, accident history, and traffic volume.

David Koch

All but one of Wyoming’s mountain pass highways will be open for Memorial Day weekend.  The Wyoming Department of Transportation shuts down several of the state’s passes because of deep snow during winter months.  Maintenance engineer Tim McGary says it wasn't clear they would be able to get Snowy Range Pass between Centennial and Saratoga open in time.

Associated Press

Heavy snowfall this winter has crashed the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s budget.  Budget Officer Kevin Hibbard says WYDOT budgeted $22-million, but the department over-spent that amount at the beginning of March.  

“February this year was the most expensive month,” Hibbard says.  “We had about 6-million dollars in snow control expenditures in the month of February.”

The Wyoming Department of Transportation may be one of the state agencies that benefits from the better than expected earnings Wyoming brought in this fiscal year. The state’s general fund is about $333 million over what the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, or CREG, predicted.

  Governor Matt Mead says he’s gone through WYDOT’s budget once, but may review it again.

Wyoming’s Department of Transportation is planning to install a pair of CatchNET systems on Teton Pass, west of Wilson.

 CatchNET systems are sets of metal netting which bring runaway vehicles to a safe stop.

 The only CatchNET currently installed in Wyoming has proved successful. The six drivers who've used it walked away from the incidents unharmed, while those who didn't died or were seriously injured.  

But WyoDOT spokeswoman Stephanie Harsha says convincing truckers that the nets work can be challenging.

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