During the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce's Driving Success luncheon presented by Heinrich Marketing, Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), Luke Reiner, shared transportation news with the business community.
Cheyenne's future has always been tied to transportation. Today interstate highway, rail, and air services all heavily impact our economy. During the luncheon, Director Reiner addressed road fatalities, fiscal resources, legislative activities, projected expenditures, and infrastructure updates.
Since becoming the 18th director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation in March 2019, Reiner has been focused on taking care of WYDOT employees and reshaping the organization's mission, values, goals, and strategy for the future.
This role has not been without challenges. Last year, 147 fatalities occurred on Wyoming roads, up from 111 fatalities in 2018. Reiner shared that human behaviors contribute this increase, not engineering of the roads. Speed, distracted driving, and failure to wear a seat belt are the primary causes. For these reasons, education in road safety remain priorities for the organization moving forward.
Today, there are 10 fatalities on Wyoming roads, down from last year; however, 3 of these fatalities occurred earlier this month, Sunday, March 1st, during a 100 vehicle pile-up on interstate I-80. Visibility was poor during a snow squall and vehicle speed contributed to the violent crash. The roads were closed that day.
"We rarely close roads because the surface is not safe to drive on. Our plows and plow crews do a great job of that, but what they cannot control is viability" shared Reiner.
Reiner also addressed fiscal resources available to WYDOT in 2020. This year, over $678,000,000 will be available to fund programs and maintain the roads. Unfortunately, buying power has declined over the last decade but is up slightly from last year.
In response to this decline, the organization introduced four bills to the Legislative Budget Session that have potential to generate additional funding. These included maintenance of WyoLink, replacement of the revenue information system (RIS), I-80 tolling, and the 3-cent fuel tax. Each of these bills failed introduction.
Since 2020 is an election year, it is essential we continue to communicate the importance of these bills to our legislators and advocate for the transportation industry. The work WYDOT does is essential to the Cheyenne community and needs to be supported.
Most of WYDOT's expenditures in 2020 will be on the Highway Improvement Program ($381,067,930), maintenance and operations ($110,312,940), law enforcement ($44,421,430), and aeronautics ($36,351,926).
Reiner concluded by thanking community members for coming together to support the industry.
"Life works better when you have partners and we have great partners in this community."
The event was made possible by the following event sponsors:
Spradley Barr Motors, Inc.
The Cheyenne Post
Capitol Roofing, Inc.
HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC
Laramie County Abstract & Title Company
Laramie County Events
Plumbers & Pipefitters UA Local 192
Red Lion Hotel & Conference Center