Wyoming panel looks at I-80 tolls

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A Wyoming legislative committee is exploring the concept of imposing toll fees on Interstate 80 truck traffic to help pay for escalating highway maintenance costs, the Jackson Hole Star-Tribune reported today, Oct. 11.

The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 10, asked state transportation officials to determine whether the federal government would allow tolling on I-80, and how much revenue it might generate, the newspaper reported; if the concept proves feasible, the committee will ask for an in-depth study on tolling when the full Legislature meets in February.

The committee also is considering a 10-cent increase in the state fuel tax and higher fees for driver’s licenses, according to the Star-Tribune. “We want to know the cost of the study and where the feds are on this,” Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, told the newspaper.

Nancy Robertson, co-owner of Robertson Transportation in Evanston, told the Star-Tribune that she considered the idea of tolls on I-80 “ridiculous.” “Trucking companies are already taxed to death on everything we do,” said Robertson, whose company regularly uses I-80.

WYDOT Chief Engineer Del McOmie told the newspaper the proposals are, in part, a response to massive price increases for construction materials — including a 40 percent inflationary jump in 2006 — and maintenance issues related to more heavy trucks on the road. “It’s really become a critical issue on this funding,” McOmie the Star-Tribune.