Wyoming Senate Approves I-80 Toll Road Bill
The Wyoming Senate on Friday narrowly approved a bill that could eventually lead to making Interstate 80 in Wyoming a toll road.
The vote in favor of Senate File 73 was 16-13 in favor.
As a procedural move, Sen. Bill Landen [R-Natrona County] then called for a reconsideration vote and urged his colleagues to vote against his motion, which they did 19-10. By intentionally defeating a reconsideration vote, Landen's move meant opponents of the bill could not reverse the Senate's Friday vote, since only one reconsideration vote on a bill is allowed.
The bill now moves on to the Wyoming House of Representatives.
The idea of making I-80 a toll road is not a new one. It has been discussed in Wyoming for over a decade, and a similar bill failed to win final approval in the 2020 Budget Session of the legislature. Advocates of the idea have argued for years that imposing a toll is needed to properly maintain Interstate 80.
But even if the bill were to become law in Wyoming, there are questions about whether a state can impose a toll on a federally-owned highway, so the proposal might need federal approval before becoming a reality.
The bill does not specify the dollar amount of tolls that would be imposed, simply saying the Wyoming Transportation Commission would have the ability to "impose tolls and exercise other powers regarding interstate 80 that are necessary, equitable and appropriate."
The bill also says the goal of the tolling system would be
''To finance, construct, operate and maintain interstate 80 and accommodate the needs of the traveling public through safe, efficient, convenient and modern vehicular traffic it is necessary and in the public interest to provide for the financing, construction, operation, regulation and maintenance of interstate 80 under a tolled configuration. The tolled configuration will allow interstate 80 to be maintained and to be operated in a way that will reduce traffic congestion, delays, hazards, injuries and fatalities.''
Here is the breakdown of the vote on Friday:
Ayes: ANDERSON, BALDWIN, BONER, CASE, COOPER, FURPHY, GIERAU, HICKS, KINSKEY, KOST, LANDEN, PAPPAS, PERKINS, ROTHFUSS, SCHULER, SCOTT
Nays: BITEMAN, BOUCHARD, DOCKSTADER, DRISKILL, ELLIS, FRENCH, HUTCHINGS, JAMES, KOLB, MCKEOWN, NETHERCOTT, SALAZAR, STEINMETZ