WYDOT announces ‘Authorized Travel’ program
Dave Holeton, a WYDOT maintenance crew leader out of Laramie, raises the gate to allow traffic to run south on US 287. WYDOT file photo.
Allows motorists to drive beyond road closures under limited conditions
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
November 22, 2010
Motorists may be permitted to drive on closed roads in Wyoming under certain circumstances, in accordance with the new "WYDOT Authorized Travel" program. A recent change in state law makes the program possible, and interested individuals can learn more and apply on the 511 Travel Information Web page at https://wat.wyoroad.info/wat/.
Most road closures during winter storms are made for the sake of public safety, often due to hazardous pavement conditions or poor visibility, or a combination thereof. In some cases, a closure may be prompted by crash wreckage blocking the roadway, or even a traffic jam resulting from bad weather a considerable distance ahead.
Closures points are typically located at the outskirts of population centers or at junctions of major highways. Some storms are widespread and strong enough that travel conditions are unsuitable throughout the length of the closed section. But more often, pavement and weather conditions can vary significantly within a single road section, which may be as long as 100 miles or more.
The law now gives the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and the Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP) formal authority to allow local travel on the passable portion of a closed road. Motorists requesting permission to do so are usually trying to reach a destination beyond the closure point, but in an area less affected by the conditions warranting the closure.
Under the WYDOT Authorized Travel program, motorists can now pre-apply for permission to travel beyond closure points on a specified road section (or sections). Prior to applying to the program, motorists must first be subscribed to WYDOT’s 511 Notify program, which requires a valid e-mail address.
Pre-approvals for Wyoming Authorized Travel are issued only to individual motorists, and not to groups, companies, families or vehicles. WYDOT does require vehicle descriptions in case an attempt must be made to locate a driver or vehicle not arriving at a destination on a closed road. Applicants must specify one or more road sections in their request and must also provide a reason for travel.
When a closure occurs, motorists who are already pre-approved for WYDOT Authorized Travel will receive a notification, via email and/or text message, informing them of which roadway sections are authorized for travel. (In some cases, motorists will be allowed to travel only a portion of the roadway section they indicated when they applied to the program.) Pre-approval in itself does not give the motorist blanket permission to travel the road any time it is closed. Instead, authorizations are issued on an event-by-event basis and are valid only for the specific sections listed in the notification.
Motorists still have the option of seeking permission to travel locally on a closed road by a state trooper who may be at the road closure gate. In this instance, if no trooper is present, the motorist cannot proceed, unless they have contacted WHP dispatch via telephone and been granted permission to travel past the gate.
It should be noted that for some road closures, no local travel will be authorized, regardless of whether a motorist is pre-approved through the WYDOT Authorized Travel program. Another possibility is that if a storm shifts or intensifies, WYDOT might be forced to alter or cancel an initial decision to authorize local travel.
Violators of Wyoming’s road closure law are subject to a fine of up to $750 and/or jail time.
All pre-approvals for WYDOT Authorized Travel will expire each summer and motorists will need to re-apply for the subsequent cold-weather season.