EVANSTON — Officials with the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) have been visiting Wyoming communities to share information and receive public input on the agency’s State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The STIP includes a six-year plan of highway projects as well as transit, aeronautic, public safety communications commission and capital construction projects.
The complex and detailed STIP process fully begins each year in March when performance measures and budget numbers are available. During April and May candidate projects are reviewed, and public input is solicited through the summer months. In September the transportation commission approves the STIP, which the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Authority must also approve before the final document is published in October.
In an effort to get more public involvement and awareness, in addition to holding community meetings WYDOT has developed interactive maps on its website. An interactive transportation system map allows users to see pavement and bridge conditions of roadways throughout the state, as well as see locations of upcoming projects for the next several years. Users can add or remove layers by fair, poor, good or excellent condition, as well as by road classification of interstate, principal or minor arterial, major or minor collector or local.
A different STIP map allows users to zoom in on a particular location and obtain details of upcoming planned projects, from 2019 through 2025. The STIP map also includes a list organized by county and year that provides further details, including mile markers, nature and description of work and the estimated cost of each project.
Users are able to click a button to add a comment on the STIP or submit a request to notify WYDOT staff of problem areas or share concerns. The comment section allows users to select the county and even the exact road or street in that county to leave a comment.
According to Keith Compton, WYDOT District Engineer of district three, which covers Uinta, Lincoln, Sweetwater, Sublette and Teton counties, there are significant needs both statewide and throughout the district. Funding for fiscal year 2019 is approximately $630 million, of which about 50 percent is federal revenue, just under 35 percent is from highway user fees and more than 15 percent is from other state revenue.
Even with that level of funding, however, Compton said maintaining state roadways and structures in even current condition would require an additional $69 million per year. Budget constraints impact which projects are able to be done each year, and some roadways are badly in need of attention.
Compton said the interstates are in good or even excellent condition for the most part, but 12.5 percent of interstate miles are in fair to poor condition. About 37 percent of NHS critical routes are in fair to poor condition and about 51 percent of 4,721 non-critical secondary road miles are in fair to poor condition. Compton said WYDOT currently spends about $10 million annually for replacement of some of the 1,959 state-owned bridges.
Ideally, said Compton, WYDOT would like to move more toward maintaining roadways and bridges than repairing them, because the costs for maintenance are drastically reduced compared to those to improve or reconstruct roads. For each dollar spent on renovation during the first quarter of a roadway’s life, costs would increase to $4-8 if improvements are completed later. Once a road has reached the last 12 percent of its lifespan, complete reconstruction is required.
Compton said sometimes it may appear as though work is being done on a segment of road that is in good condition, when in reality projects like overlays are being completed to maintain the road before it reaches the stage where costs increase.
“We’re struggling a lot, especially in district three, to do that,” he said, “because we can’t just let roads fall apart. . . We’ve had to shift money to those areas to try to patch them and hold them together. We’re not able to stay on top of it quite the way we’d like.” Compton said the district three budget for this year was close to $93 million, when it is typically about $50 million, because funds were shifted from other districts due to extensive needs.
Upcoming local projects in Uinta County in 2019 include patching, striping and bridge rehabilitation in various locations, as well as concrete slab replacement on I-80 from the state line to milepost 28, likely to begin in early July, and new pavement work that is currently ongoing in the eastbound lanes of I-80 from mileposts 49-57.
Projects slated for 2020 include new pavement in the westbound lanes of I-80, as well as more bridge rehabilitation on seven bridge structures, mill and overlay on US 189 between mileposts 10 and 18 from Lazeart Junction to Kemmerer and replacement of the Sulphur Creek Bridge on County Rd. 159.
A planned project likely to significantly impact Evanston residents is a full-depth reclamation, overlay and ADA improvements of Harrison Drive from near the Best Western Dunmar Inn down to Front Street. WYDOT Resident Engineer Damon Newsome said it is uncertain at this time if the physical work on that project will be done during the summer or fall of 2020 or 2021, but it is anticipated the road may be closed for approximately three weeks during that project.
Newsome said the traffic lights at the intersection of Harrison and Main Street will also be redone at that time; however, the lights will not be removed completely as was once discussed. That will also remain a timed signal that will not be actuated by the presence of vehicles.
The City of Evanston also plans to do some upgrades to storm drains in the vicinity of Harrison Drive during that same time frame.
Bridge rehabilitation projects are also preliminarily planned for 2021 and 2022, as well as some pavement resurfacing and right-of-way fencing in the area of Hilliard Flat on Hwy. 150 tentatively scheduled for 2023; and mill, level, overlay and pipe cleaning of Hwy. 414 between Mountain View and Lonetree slated for 2024.
For further details on upcoming projects, visit the STIP project map at https://webapp.dot.state.wy.us/ao/f?p=951:1:::::: and for additional information on road conditions visit https://apps.wyoroad.info/itsm/map.html.