Wyoming Lands $13 Million Grant to Improve Interchange
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Wyoming officials are eager to start spending a new $13 million federal grant to complete final redesign to modernize where interstates 25 and 80 intersect in the state’s largest and most heavily used interchange, which was built in the 1960s.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation issued a statement July 7 about being awarded a 2023 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant to help pay for the I-80/I-25 interchange redesign in Cheyenne, the state’s capital city.
Linking Wyoming to Utah and Nebraska, I-80 is a four-lane divided highway with climbing lanes on five short sections and spans over its 403-mile course through Wyoming.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced June 28 the awarding of $2.26 billion in RAISE grants to 162 infrastructure projects across the country, including the Wyoming interchange.
“This round of RAISE grants is helping create a new generation of good-paying jobs in rural and urban communities alike, with projects whose benefits will include improving safety, fighting climate change, advancing equity, strengthening our supply chain and more,” Buttigieg said, adding that the funds “are helping communities in every state across the country realize their visions for new infrastructure projects.”
The current cloverleaf design is obsolete, and the sharp, tight curves paired with vehicle weaving, and insufficient acceleration and deceleration lanes can create issues for freight and other traffic movement.
Keith Fulton, WYDOT assistant chief engineer of engineering and planningImage
Demand for the U.S. Department of Transportation grant amounted to $15 billion in requests for federal funds to help with difficult and expensive infrastructure projects in need of money. RAISE discretionary grants are awarded to states, municipalities, tribal governments, counties and others seeking federal dollars to complete critical freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects lacking necessary financial resources.
“This is the third time we’ve applied for federal grant funding for this interchange, so we are thrilled to have the chance to move forward,” said Keith Fulton, WYDOT assistant chief engineer of engineering and planning.
The $13 million grant does not pay for construction but rather crucial design work before any shovels can hit the dirt, Fulton added.
An interactive map of the area surrounding the interchange of interstates 80 and 25. (Google Maps)
“The current cloverleaf design is obsolete, and the sharp, tight curves paired with vehicle weaving, and insufficient acceleration and deceleration lanes can create issues for freight and other traffic movement,” he said. “Once we have a final design, we can better estimate construction costs and possible phasing of projects.”
A few years ago, the state’s estimated total project cost varied from $207.2 million to $310.7 million.
The I-25/I-80 interchange is a critical freight corridor for local, state and national needs as well as being Wyoming’s main interchange for interstate commerce, especially cross-country freight transportation. Through traffic on I-80 ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day, of which commercial trucks account for 50% of the traffic volume.
“Because of the facility’s age and growth in traffic demands, a pressing need for infrastructure improvements exists. This necessity is driven by high crash rates, operational deficiencies and increasing travel demands of passenger vehicles and heavy trucks,” according to WYDOT.
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The interchange, built in the 1960s, lacks modern interstate design standards. The tight loop ramp geometry, short acceleration/deceleration lanes and entering/exiting vehicle weave movements contribute to an average of 70 crashes annually, of which 20% involve injuries.
“In addition to improving the interchange’s traffic flow and safety, the project will accommodate future traffic needs — particularly for heavy trucks — and support Cheyenne’s local development goals,” WYDOT stated.
Over the past 30 years, I-80 has experienced a huge increase in traffic volumes. Heavy-truck traffic has grown by more than 150% in this period, and car traffic has soared by 65%.