Evanston Officials Angry Over WYDOT Plan To Build Giant Parking Lot For Semis Off I-80

Some Evanston City Council members are angry that the State of Wyoming is building a gigantic parking lot for 365 semi-trucks off of I-80 in Evanston. They say they were never asked about it and it will make their city look like a giant truck stop.

Tracie Sullivan

December 13, 20234 min read

Rock Springs trucks backed up 12 13 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is moving ahead with plans to spend more than $33 million to add hundreds of new semitruck parking spaces off Interstate 80 near Evanston, but local City Council members aren’t exactly happy about the project.

In fact, they’re downright mad, saying Evanston officials weren’t asked if it wanted to host the 365 new parking spots and that it’ll be an eyesore for everyone driving through.

“Evanston is the front door to Wyoming. We should be putting our best foot forward instead of treating our city like it’s only a truck stop,” said city councilman Jesse Lind. “Evanston is not a truck stop, but the state never talks to us. I have never seen a state official at a council meeting to discuss this project with us and to ask our opinion.”

WYDOT could have done a “better job” of consulting with local leaders on the project and its location, Lind said.

Councilwoman Jennie Hegeman echoed Lind’s sentiments adding that Evanston has bigger issues than truck parking. 

“Evanston is used to dealing with truckers and the interstate when it’s shut down,” she said. “The problem is really not that big of a deal, but in the meantime, people don’t have housing. We need housing for our seniors, our vets and workers.”

‘This Is A Crucial Project’

That location is along I-80 between mile markers 6 and 10, said Jordan Young, a WYDOT spokesperson.

While it may not be what Evanston wants, it’s an important upgrade sorely needed by truckers who are often stranded by weather closures along I-80, Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement announcing the project on Tuesday.

“This is a crucial project for Wyoming. It's an investment in our road infrastructure that will help address pedestrian and vehicle safety hazards that occur when winter weather forces the closure of I-80,” Gordon said. “Importantly, it will alleviate the impacts to the community caused by hundreds of tractor trailers seeking somewhere safe to park.”

Not So Fast …

Most of the $33.3 million cost will come from a $26.6 million award from the U.S. Department of Transportation through its 2023-24 Rural Surface Transportation Grant, WYDOT reports.

State officials say the project is imperative to address some of the safety hazards that present in the winter months within the city limits. 

And while Lind and Hegeman say the city wasn’t part of the process, WYDOT has been working with the community for several years, agency spokeswoman Stephanie Harsha told Cowboy State Daily.

She specifically pointed to the Uinta County Senior Citizens Board that has committed to providing limited on-demand transit services to get truckers from the parking are to where they need to go for a shower and food.

City Welcomes Truckers

There are some in Evanston who will welcome having more spots for truckers to park during emergencies.

“When there’s a storm that closes I-80, trucks park anywhere they can in Evanston, even in the turning lanes and on the side of the road. It can be a real mess,” Brian Baker, general manager for Pilot Truck Stop, told Cowboy State Daily. “I think the parking spaces are going to be good for the city in dealing with the congestion better.” 

While Lind said he is aware the city is always going to have issues with trucks because of the city’s close proximity to the state border and a major traffic artery, he agrees with Hegeman that Evanston also has other pressing needs, like housing and economic development. 

This is the third competitive federal grant in 2023 that WYDOT has been awarded.

The project also could help take some pressure off Rock Springs about 105 miles east of Evanston. Rock Springs can be overrun with hundreds of semis during winter weather events that close the interstate.

Parking area construction is expected to begin in spring 2026 depending on design timing, project scheduling and other considerations.

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Tracie Sullivan