Interstate 80 in Wyoming is disastrous in the winter with strong winds and snow accumulation which causes sections of the busy interstate to frequently close. Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) Luke Reiner has suggested moving the interstate to a path parallel to U.S. Highway 30 north of its current route.
Unfortunately, that idea has come to a halt as the estimated price is between $6.1 and $12.6 billion.
Talking to Cowboy State News, Reiner said that that with large projects, even though federal money will account for the bulk of the funding, there is generally a requirement that matching funds be provided from the private sector or state.
“With most of the big grants that we get, the federal government typically kicks in 90%, and we kick in 10%,” he said.
Reiner explained that with the current budget for Wyoming, spending anywhere between $600 million to $1.2 billion would not be feasible. Those estimates were made in 2020 prior to supply chain issues and inflation.
Reiner explained, “We just don’t have the capability to match that large of a project.”
Reiner is still trying to get the idea off the ground.
“I’ve been to a couple conferences, and when I bring it up people have listened,” said Reiner. “But the right person with the deep checkbook has not come up and said, ‘Hey, we love that, how about we just fund it?’”
Reiner explained that re-routing I-80 would mean fewer closures, avoiding delays on a crucial shipping route through the heart of the United States.
“I-80 is a route of national commerce. And when we shut it down, we’re all just very aware that it’s a big deal,” Reiner said. “That wind event negatively affects the economy of our nation, because it stops the trucks.”
But he said the idea, although not at the top of the agency’s to-do list, is still under consideration.
“We’ll continue to keep our eyes open, and think through various options that might be available,” he said.
Source: Cowboy State News