hBy Cowboy State Daily
A state legislator is proposing another attempt to set a toll for travel on Interstate 80 as a way to pay for improvements to Wyoming’s busiest interstate highway.
Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, is proposing the toll as a way to widen I-80 and add a third lane in each direction that could be used by cars and other passengers vehicles.
Money raised by the toll would be dedicated to improvement and maintenance of the highway.
Under Von Flatern’s plan, tolls would be collected for all vehicles traveling the highway, but the toll of Wyoming residents would be paid from federal mineral royalties that go the Wyoming Department of Transportation. Such a plan would avoid charges of discrimination against out-of-state drivers
“If you want to toll somebody that lives in Nebraska, you have to toll somebody who lives in Wyoming,” he said. “But in this case, they will just take it out of the federal mineral royalties.”
The cost to the state in mineral royalties would not exceed the revenue collected through tolls, he added.
“Eighty percent of the traffic on I-80 does not start or stop in the state of Wyoming, other than maybe to get fuel,” he said.
Von Flatern noted that this past winter, every day saw some segment of the interstate closed because of bad weather.
But Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, said an extra lane would not solve problems caused by the weather.
“Having an extra lane doesn’t correct Mother Nature,” he said.
Bouchard said he is worried the toll could eventually be paid by Wyoming residents.
“Everything that I see, when it talks about a tax or a fee or in this case a toll, it’s framework legislation,” he said. “Meaning that once they get it in, sooner or later we’re all going to pay this toll.”
A toll would have to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration before it could be considered by the Legislature.