As construction season starts wrapping up for the year, the Wyoming Department of Transportation is gearing up for next year’s projects.
Updated each year, WYDOT outlines its projects for the next 5-6 years in the State Transportation Improvement Program, which goes through an extensive public comment and review process before completion.
The 2020 STIP outlines projects planned through 2025, but WYDOT spokesman Matt Murphy told the Laramie Boomerang projects can be adjusted “depending on funding and how we can prioritize and distribute the money that we have.”
“For 2020, those projects are pretty much set for the upcoming year, but the ones that are further out in the STIP can move around,” Murphy said.
Albany County has another full year of projects ahead for the 2020 construction season, including a $4.1 million bridge rehab project on Interstate 80 near Telephone Canyon, sign upgrades along I-80 near Laramie and a $4.8 million mill and overlay for Wyoming Highway 230 west of Laramie, finishing a multi-year rehab of the highway that started at the Colorado state line.
“People might notice that one just since we’ve been working on that highway a good bit the last few years,” Murphy said.
Additionally, WYDOT has planned a $4.3 million overlay and seal coat for Wyoming Highway 12 near Herrick Lane.WYDOT
One major project for 2020 is to install new climbing lanes on I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins, both westbound at Cooper Cove and eastbound at Halleck Ridge, to help alleviate congestion from winter interstate closures.
Additionally, plans call for building two truck parking areas at Quealy Dome and Sinclair. Funding for the full I-80 winter freight project comes from a $20 million federal BUILD grant awarded to the state in December.
WYDOT also has allotted about $1.8 million for chip sealing, $2.8 million for contract patching and $1.5 million for bridge rehab and epoxy overlay in not-yet determined locations around WYDOT's Construction District 1, which includes most of Laramie, Albany and Carbon counties along with a small portion of Sweetwater County.
“We’re still doing a lot of pavement preservation projects, which is the same as we’ve been doing for the last few years,” Murphy said.
According to the 2020 STIP, more than one in four Wyoming residents live in Southeast Wyoming, and Laramie has passed Gillette to become Wyoming’s third-largest city. Anticipating, accommodating and funding the growth, especially around Cheyenne, has been one of WYDOT’s construction challenges, Murphy said.
Looking farther ahead, WYDOT projects include a new traffic signal at Third and Flint streets planned for fiscal year 2022 and the Third Street reconstruction and median installation in 2025.
While the projects in later years are more subject to updates and schedule changes, a far-out construction year doesn’t mean crews haven’t already started the beginning stages of a project.
For example, Murphy said the construction of Bill Nye Avenue to 15th Street is scheduled for 2022, but "that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing anything with those projects now."
“I know that they’ve been doing the surveying for Bill Nye Avenue even just this year, getting things ready so construction can start," he added.
The prioritization of projects for the next six years is determined primarily by road conditions; Murphy said WYDOT even has a van that “drives around to different highways in the state and measures the condition of the pavement.”
Public comment is also considered, like with the semi-trailer safety sign installations on Wyoming Highway 230 after some serious crashes this spring.
Wrapping up the 2019 construction season, WYDOT projects included road resurfacing and intersection upgrades at Grand Avenue in Laramie, mill and overlay on I-80 between Buford and Vedauwoo Road, resurfacing and safety sign installation on Wyoming Highway 230 near Woods Landing, and other projects.
The 2020 STIP, which details projects and funding for each WYDOT district in the state, is available in full on WYDOT’s website, www.dot.state.wy.us/stip.