Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon recently announced the upcoming closure of 10 rest areas located throughout the state to reduce operational costs for the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT).
According to Doug McGee, WYDOT public affairs officer, the closures will affect approximately 80 total parking spots at the locations, further reducing the available spaces for commercial truck drivers. While there has been both positive and negative feedback concerning the closures, McGee’s office has yet to hear from any commercial fleets.
The closures, which were approved by the Wyoming Transportation Commission during a recent special meeting, are effective June 15. They were prompted by WYDOT’s need to reduce costs due to budgetary shortfalls.
"It's disappointing that these rest areas will be closed, however WYDOT took a very calculated and methodical approach to determining which rest areas would be affected," said Sheila D. Foertsch, managing director of the Wyoming Trucking Association. "WYDOT has assured us that current efforts to expand truck parking in Wyoming will continue, even though WYDOT and every other state agency, has been directed by the Governor to determine how to cut their expenses by 20%, with additional cuts likely before the end of the year. Wyoming is facing an unprecedented reduction in expected revenue - $1.5 billion over the next two years."
According to Foertsch, every rest area being closed is within seven miles (one within three, two within two and one within one mile) of either a community or services of some sort with parking. Of the 10 closures, the services/parking available for seven of those closed rest areas are open 24 hours. WYDOT has begun posting information on their VMS system regarding where services and parking are available as the closures of the rest areas begin.
The rest areas that will close include:
- Lusk on US 18
- Guernsey on US 26
- Greybull on US 14-16-20
- Moorcroft on Interstate 90
- Star Valley on US 89
- Ft. Steele on Interstate 80
- Sundance on Interstate 90
- Upton on US 16
- Orin Junction and Chugwater, both located on Interstate 25
“It was a hard decision but one that we came to based on the needs of the public and to ensure we maintain a balanced budget,” said WYDOT Director K. Luke Reiner.
The rest area closures will result in a savings of approximately $197,453 from June 15 through Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. After that, the department will save about $789,812 per year.
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