Expect Wyoming roads to get worse, says WYDOT
Heavy truck traffic
Heavy truck traffic at the intersection of Hwy 351 and 189 north of Marbleton. Pinedale Online photo.
by WY Department of Transportation (WYDOT)
July 26, 2006
Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) District Engineers advise travelers on Wyoming highways to expect deteriorating road conditions over the next few years. Flat funding levels have caused WYDOT to defer projects statewide, as the agency shifts their focus from road improvement to maintenance.
John Eddins, District Engineer for District 3, which covers Sweetwater, Uinta, Lincoln, Teton and Sublette counties said inflation in construction costs will cause WYDOT to delay needed road construction projects in southwest Wyoming.
Increases in the cost of PG binder (asphalt), the overall annual construction cost inflation rate, the rescission of $29 million in federal aid, and because federal and state funding levels are not keeping up with the inflation, all have a negative effect on WYDOT's construction budget.
Roadway construction costs have inflated over 100 percent in the last six years. That increase, coupled with the rapidly rising prices of petroleum products, and a cap on the revenue stream for the agency, means that engineers and crews simply cannot respond and offset roadway problems as they have in the past.
Eddins said, "We are only going to be able to do about half the miles of road improvements as we have been able to do in the past. This is especially troubling with the current increases we are seeing in traffic due to gas development in the area. We will not be able to do the needed improvements that are needed now."
Three areas of concern for the district include US 191, US 89 and WYO 351. Tory Thomas, District 3 Traffic Engineer, said the increased traffic counts on the highways are some of the highest numbers in the state. Between May, 2005 and May, 2006, US 191 saw an increase of 23 percent in total traffic. WYO 351 experienced a 32 percent increase in total traffic during the same time frame, he said.
Thomas said there is also a need for the addition of passing lanes on US 89 through Star Valley, where during the summer peak season more than 6,000 vehicles a day are passing through an area being heavily developed with residential real estate.
Other improvement projects in the District that will be delayed because of the lack of funding are: adding lanes on US 30 in Lincoln County, widening the road on WYO 351 in Sublette County, and improvements to Dewar Drive from Gateway Boulevard to College Drive. Eddins said the installation of deer fences and underpasses for deer on US Hwy 30 between Sage Junction and Kemmerer, scheduled for 2007, has been deferred until 2008.
A project to replace the East Flaming Gorge Bridge at Exit 99, and reconstruction of four miles of roadway south of the interstate on US 191, has been deferred from the 2010 budget to 2012. "That bridge has been hit about seven times now. It's literally been knocked off its rockers and needs replaced," Eddins said.
District 3 Maintenance Engineer, Jim Montuoro, said three jobs at Hoback Junction will be delayed for several years, as will be the jobs on WY 22 and WY 390. He said chip sealing projects were cut by 26 percent this year and possibly more projects would have to be cut from the district budget next year. He said other Contract Maintenance Projects (CMP) jobs have been delayed and/or reduced in scope to fit the inflation-depleted dollars. Virtually all jobs in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) have been delayed, Montuoro said.