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.
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 highways rank third in the nation in performance and efficiency. That’s according to an annual highway report by the Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank that studies public policy. Author David Hartgen says Wyoming gets a lot less money than other states, but spends it well.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation would lose money for airports, under the governor’s proposed eight-percent budget cuts.
WYDOT Budget Officer Kevin Hibbard says they would have to cut funding for airport improvements and airline service.
“There would probably be a reduction in some commercial air service in local Wyoming communities,” Hibbard said. “And also I think that a backlog of projects would take place for the airport improvements.”
Crews have replaced a culvert on a Wyoming highway were four members of a Colorado Springs family drowned when the road washed out last summer.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation says the temporary bridge on Wyo. 130 has been replaced by a permanent box culvert. The roadway, about 20 miles southeast of Saratoga, is now open to two-way traffic.
The family from Colorado Springs family drove into the washed-out section of mountain highway last July. They were washed away as they fled torrential rains at a national forest campground at night.
Wyoming will receive more than 20 million dollars in federal money to pay for damage caused to state roads by landslides and flooding last year.
Due to extreme wet weather and flooding, Wyoming sustained damage to roads at 60 sites in 13 counties including the dry sandstone slide on Wyo 70 near Baggs, a slide on highway 26-89 in the Snake River Canyon and a washout on Wyoming 130 east of Saratoga that led to the deaths of four people who were drowned by flood waters.
The Federal Highway Administration is honoring the Wyoming Department of Transportation this week. Today, the department received the Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative Award for its 9.7 million dollar project near Pinedale. WYDOT is building highway overpasses and underpasses that allow wildlife to safely cross major roadways.
WYDOT District Engineer John Eddins says many big game species migrate through the Pinedale area every year, and more than 130 animals end up being killed by motor vehicles. Eddins says this project should drastically reduce collisions and roadkill.
The number of fatalities on Wyoming’s highways is down six percent compared to this time last year.
So far, 127 people have died in accidents in Wyoming this year, with four deaths occurring around the Thanksgiving holiday. Wyoming Highway Patrol Lieutenant Troy McLees says those numbers should be even lower, but also thinks winter driving habits in the state are beginning to improve. McLees attributes the decrease in fatalities this year in part to new signs posted along Interstate 80.