Revenue shortfalls have forced the Wyoming Department of Transportation to delay 11 construction projects and reduce funding for local transportation programs in communities across the state as a downturn in the energy industry and COVID-19 pandemic worsen the state's budget situation.
Earlier this month, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said he was reviewing plans by all of the state's governmental agencies to reduce their spending by 10%. The governor also announced that he is asking department heads to cut another 10%, with the second round of proposals to do so currently being fashioned.
“We are operating in unprecedented times exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and we need to look at every avenue to save money,” WYDOT Director K. Luke Reiner said in a statement Thursday. “We are looking at ways to save money and streamline our processes so we can continue to provide the people of Wyoming with the best possible service. These cost-savings measures will be challenging, but as a state we will get through this together and emerge stronger than before.”
The agency will reallocate roughly $436 million over the next six years, pulling funding from growth projects and redirecting it to maintaining current WYDOT assets.
“These projects are being put on hold, but we are hopeful that in the future we will be able to continue moving forward with them,” Reiner said. “The projects we identify for construction are important to make sure the state continues to have a premier transportation system that can help foster economic development and commerce within our state.”
Falling fuel tax revenues have contributed to the budgetary bind.
“WYDOT’s state and federal funding streams also have not kept pace with the needs of the state-owned transportation system for maintenance, construction and improvements or even inflation,” Reiner said. “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has further compounded those issues.”
Here's a list of the impacted projects:
- Reconstruction of the I-80/I-25 interchange, costing $310 million
- Widening to five lanes US 89 from Thayne to Alpine, costing $22.972,466, originally scheduled for the 2022 fiscal year
- New construction of Bill Nye Avenue in Laramie, costing $9,045,984 in fiscal year 2022
- Adding a passing lane on US 20/26 between Waltman and Shoshoni, costing $7,523,112 in fiscal year 2022
- Adding a passing lane on US 20/WY 789 between Shoshoni and Thermopolis, costing $3,632,196 in fiscal year 2022
- Widening to five lanes US 87/WY 335 Sheridan/Coffeen Avenue, costing $18,702,499 in fiscal year 2022
- Reconstruction of I-25 from Wheatland to Glendo, costing $7,386,482 in fiscal year 2024
- Widening to five lanes WY 212 in Cheyenne, College Drive/S. Greeley to Fox Farm, costing $18,684,126 in fiscal year 2025
- A 2' overlay and chipseal project on WY 434 from Ten Sleep to Big Trails, costing $1,800,001 in fiscal year 2025
- Widening to five lanes WY 59 from Wright to Gillette, costing $20,834,031 in fiscal year 2026
- Reconstructing WY 487 from Shirley Rim to Casper, costing $15,157,455 in fiscal year 2026
The agency is also looking at its discretionary funding to Wyoming communities for their local transportation programs. Some of those programs are to be impacted immediately, and WYDOT may review others down the line as the agency "refocuses its budget on state-owned and state-operated assets."
“We will continue to work with local government agencies to promote transportation and its positive effect on the state’s economy; however, until the funding outlook improves, we must concentrate available federal and state resources on state-owned assets and federally required programs,” Reiner said. “WYDOT will continue to seek methods to stretch our available resources to meet state needs, to be effective and good stewards of state and federal funds, and to make decisions promoting transportation for the state and the nation.”
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