Commissioners discuss WYDOT projects


LUSK – The Niobrara County Commissioners met with representatives of the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) for the annual Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) presentation during the regular meeting on Tuesday. 

District Engineer Mark Ayen provided an update on the program as well as proposed local projects. WYDOT has a set of guiding principles to decide which projects take priority as the first principle is to align expenditures with available revenue amount and source.

Other principles include addressing critical life safety issues, improving effectiveness and efficiency and prioritizing activities to minimize negative impacts to the public. 

WYFOT is responsible for 6,700 miles of roads which include 60,000 bridges, 42,000 culverts, 800 miles of guardrail, 80,000 signs and 12,000 miles of fence. 

Ayen also discussed the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) which is the transportation funding bill for WYDOT projects. The funds are divided into four categories: surface transportation (construction) bridges, electric vehicles and aeronautics. For fiscal year 2022 construction is at $339,391,760 which is up from $280,451,386 from 2021. The total federal funding in 2022 is $438,291,760. 

Ayen also explained the state plan for electric vehicle charging stations and how the 50-mile and one-mile rules are hard to follow in Wyoming. The 50-mile rule means there should be a charging station every 50 miles while the one-mile rule means each charging station should be within a mile from the interstate. Ayen said it is not always practical to follow these rules when deciding where a charging station should go. Lusk currently has one Tesla charging station and it is uncertain if the county will get another one in the future. 

According to the STIP process overview, WYDOT is currently in the public input phase as the final STIP for the year will be published on Oct. 1. 

Niobrara County projects include chip seal between mileposts 175.31 to 184.93 on U.S. Highway 85 in 2024 as well as mill and overlay between mileposts 150-163 on U.S. Highway 85, mill and overlay between mileposts 195-203 on U.S. Highway 85 and bridge rehabilitation at milepost 185.5 (Old Woman Creek) on U.S. 85 85. All of which are planned to be done in 2025. 

Ayen encouraged everyone to learn more on the WYDOT website and to attend the online STIP meetings starting July 26. The meetings can be accessed at www.wydotSTIPmeeting.com. 

In other business, the commissioners continued discussions from Monday with department heads and elected officials on the budget. Along with the county clerk, road and bridge foreman and county attorney, the commissioners also met with the fairground board on their section of the budget and plans for fixing the building’s roof. 

During new business, the council approved an extension contract with Traci Bruegger for courthouse, library and Justice Center cleaning. The commissioners also ratified a contract with Kroll for the second cyber incident and a 24-hour catering permit to Raegan Lyon for a wedding reception on June 18 as well as approve a 24-hour catering permit to the Silver Dollar Bar for the Alumni Banquet on June 25 at the fairgrounds and carry over of vacation and holiday time for employees. 

In regard to the second cyber incident which happened on Saturday, the commissioners agreed to sign an agreement with Coveware to begin developing an inscription tool and to start negotiations with the actor. If the county has to pay the actor, it will be paid for by the insurance.  

The net regular meeting is July 5 at 9 a.m.  

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