Wyoming transportation panel looks at road use charge, truck rules
June 2, 2020
A Wyoming state legislative panel is looking at a myriad of proposals to address transportation issues that include funding and road safety.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs met in late May for two days to narrow scope of ideas to address Wyoming transportation concerns.
The main focus of the group is addressing an annual shortfall for roads that is estimated at more than $135 million.
Wyoming relies largely on road taxes and fees for the revenue needed to cover road and bridge needs. The state does not receive revenue from the general fund for transportation maintenance and repairs.
To make matters worse, the Wyoming Department of Transportation informed legislators that as a result of reduced traffic across the state in recent months the agency anticipates a $15 million loss in fuel tax revenue.
The fuel tax is the state’s main transportation funding source. The current tax rate of 24 cents per gallon is unchanged since 2014.
Tolls and fuel taxes
Attempts earlier this year at the statehouse to raise road revenue failed to gain traction. Among the options pursued include a fuel tax increase and charging tolls.
The Senate voted 18-11 against the introduction of a bill to tap tolls to cover costs for improvements to Interstate 80 in the state.
A separate bill sought to raise the gas and diesel rates by 3 cents to 27 cents per gallon.
The change is estimated to raise $20 million annually for state and local roads, according to a fiscal note attached to the failed bill.
Road use charge for Wyoming transportation
Wyoming transportation officials say that something needs to be done to help the agency address the $40 million shortfall just to maintain the highway. Agency officials say I-80 also needs additional climbing lanes, more truck parking and the reconstruction of its interchange with I-25 in Cheyenne.
WYDOT Director Luke Reiner told the transportation panel one option to get the state back on track with funding is to implement a road user charge program.
Reiner said rates could be structured so that highway users who cause less road wear pay less.
The agency touts the road user charge option as more sustainable than fuel tax increases. WYDOT has gone as far as to hire a consultant to help develop a road use charge.
The committee is expected to continue discussion on the topic and look at recommendations to capture road use charges on IFTA and non-IFTA trucks during its next meeting on July 10.
In an effort to improve safety on roadways, WYDOT is looking into allowing the use of speed cameras on corridors like the Teton Pass.
The agency drew attention to the use of automated vehicle identification. The technology is described as being able to aid law enforcement to cite drivers for traffic violations in “dangerous circumstances” such as seasonal restrictions and construction work zones.
WYDOT notes that during a recent one-year period there were 114 citations issued for “no trailer” or “overweight” on Teton Pass during the seasonal restriction period.
One option discussed to reduce incidents on the state’s roadways is to implement a licensing requirement for drivers of commercial vehicles to receive training in winter driving.
The Wyoming Montana Safety Council told legislators that a year ago there were 30 crashes that resulted in a fatality involving a commercial vehicle.
A related proposal would require all drivers of commercial vehicles who drive in Wyoming to have proof of nationally recognized education on winter driving.
The committee is expected to take up some of the issues again in the fall.
More Land Line coverage of news from Wyoming is available.