Thursday, July 07, 2011

Hurry up with those flying cars -- Wyoming roads going to hell!

I thought I was seeing things when I read in last Friday's Casper Star-Tribune that Wyoming's roads are going to hell.
The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but good intentions won't pave the roads through Wyoming.

Money will pave the state's roads, or else they will go to hell for decades without a substantial increase in funding...
Nice lede by reporter Tom Morton. His interview with Lowell Fleenor, district engineer for the central Wyoming division of WYDOT, yielded some great quotes:

"At current funding levels, there is no way the system will not deteriorate."
"Due to funding constraints, WYDOT is moving from a transportation improvement program to a pavement preservation program."
This is bad news for all of us who depend on our roads to get from one place to another. Until jet packs and flying cars assume their rightful place in Wyoming garages, we will remain dependent on driving our four-wheeled personal mobility devices on paved roads.

There are several causes. Decline in federal revenue. Lack of Congressional action on a national highway bill. Low state fuel taxes, with Wyoming's 14 cents a gallon the lowest in the Rocky Mountain region. No action by the state legislature on raising fuel taxes or turning I-80 into a toll road or on retrofitting our cars with anti-grav devices.

Just kidding on that last one. Although that may happen before the legislature ever approves an increase in the fuel tax. Can't even say the "T" word in Wyoming.

So our roads go to hell.

Interestingly enough, Gov. Matt Mead has been talking up the importance of infrastructure. He’s proposed predictable, long-term revenue streams to fund municipalities and highways. His proposals have been rejected by the state legislature. The Governor’s motto is “Wyoming First.” At the Wyoming Association of Municipalities conference in Sheridan, he reiterated that and added that now is the time to invest in the state.
“I go the National Governors’ Association convention and Wyoming is in a much better place than almost every other state. We’re in competition with other states and they can’t do this now. Now is the time for Wyoming to do this. Our municipalities need this. Maintenance and building of infrastructure does not get cheaper with time.”

“If you want healthy economic development, you must have infrastructure.”
For more on this subject, read the CST's editorial in the July 6 edition: "Lack of Wyoming highway funding an emergency."

UPDATE: House GOP plans to cut $15 billion from transportation budget. See story at Guess we'll have to make do with travel on horseback over rutted trails. Back to the good ol' days!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Not too interested in this $250,000 flying car:

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