Wyoming hopes federal bill will improve state roads

Mar 13, 2012

Members of Congress are having a tough time agreeing on what a national transportation bill should look like.  Transportation funding is usually a safe bet for lawmakers on both sides of aisle, but in this election year, and as current transit measures are set to expire at the end of the month, it’s looking like a bumpy road.  Although the U.S. Senate version of the bill passed today, the  House version is currently stalled because both Republicans and Democrats are angry about high costs of rebuilding projects and contentious cuts to mass transit.Wyoming’s Department of Transportation Director John Cox says he is hopeful that congress will come up with a financially sustainable, long-term plan so Wyoming can begin to fix roads that are on the decline. "What will cost you a dollar to fix today will cost you 4 to 8 bucks, 8-9 years out. So the longer you wait, by far, the more expensive it gets," he says. Cox says that while over half of Wyoming’s roads are in good condition, they will need an additional $134-million dollars per year to keep them in their current condition.Rob Perks, Transportation Advocacy Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council says that the Senate version is less problematic, but many aspects of the pending House bill, if they remain, could hurt Wyoming.

"Cutting federal funding for programs that ensure that programs don’t affect air quality. Speeding up process for building highways and that could have damage to environmental resources or healthy communities," says Perks.House speaker John Boehner said last week that if GOP leaders fail to get enough votes for their own measure, he may introduce the Senate’s version in the House soon.