'No more 65'Apr 17, 2016 By Christina George, Staff Writer
Speed limit raised on state highways across county; some lower limits remain
The posted speed limit rose from 65 to 70 mph in recent days on many stretches of highway crisscrossing Fremont County.
The first highways Wyoming Department of Transportation crews installed new speed limit signs on were U.S. Highway 20/26 between Shoshoni and Casper and U.S. Highway 287/Wyoming Highway 789 between Rawlins Junction and Muddy Gap.
Passed by Legislature
Installation of new signs is planned for several more non-interstate highways in Fremont County and state-wide this spring as authorized by new law passed this year by the Wyoming Legislature.
"Basically the 65 mph speed limit no longer exists," said WYDOT public relations specialist, Cody Beers. "We are getting it done as quickly as we can to meet the requirements of the law, which went into effect immediately when it was signed by the governor."
According to a news release, WY-DOT expects to have about 1,500 miles of statewide non-interstate highways raised to 70 mph by the end of April, and another 1,000 miles by the end of May, with work continuing through the summer.
Beers said crews are not replacing speed limit signs but instead changing the number with an overlay.
"That is saving us $91,000 statewide by just using the number on the sign as opposed to replacing the sign," he said.
It costs about $60 per sign for the overlay and employee expenses.
As of Friday morning, motorists in Fremont County can also drive at the higher rate of speed on: U.S. Highway 28, South Pass, between Rawlins Junction and the Fremont-Sublette county line; U.S. Highway 287 between Fort Washakie and Diversion Dam Junction; U.S. Highway 26, be-tween Riverton and Kinnear; U.S. Highway 26/287 between Kinnear and the red hills about 15 miles east of Dubois; Wyoming Highway 134, Missouri Valley Road, between U.S. Highway 26/Wyoming Highway 789 and the junction of Wyoming High-way 132, south of Pavillion; and Wyo-ming Highway 133 between the junction of U.S. Highway 26 and Pavillion.
Still to come
Other highways scheduled for new signage are Wyoming Highway 789 between Lander and Riverton, south of the Wind River Hotel and Casino; U.S. Highway 20/Wyoming Highway 789 north of Shoshoni to the beginning of Wind River Canyon; Wyoming Highway 135, Sand Draw Road, between Wyoming Highway 789, south of Riverton, and the junction of U.S. Highway 287/Wyoming Highway 789 at Sweetwater Station; U.S. Highway 26/Wyoming Highway 789 between Shoshoni and the U.S. Highway 26/Wyoming 789 intersection with Burma Road north of Riverton; Wyoming Highway 136, Gas Hills Road, from junction with Wyoming Highway 135 east of Riverton to the end of state maintenance; and U.S. Highway 26/287 west of Dubois to the U.S. Forest Service boundary.
The existing posted speed limit remains in effect until new signs are installed. Travelers can see highways that have increased to 70 mph when sign installation is completed at www.wyoroad.info.
'It's just a number'
Fremont County undersheriff Ryan Lee said he doesn't believe the new speed limit will be a problem for deputies.
"It's just a number. The one thing we have to be prepared for will be different bond schedules and tables provided by the Wyoming Supreme Court that gives us different regulations and fines," Lee said. "We are going to be looking at what is posted. WYDOT is still studying certain areas. We don't know what those areas are, so we will go by what is actually posted on the roadway."
Not going to 70
Highways with speed limits below 65 mph that weave through communities will remain at the lower speed limit, said WYDOT district traffic engineer, Randy Merritt.
Some highways not scheduled for a new posted speed limit include Wyoming Highway 133, Sinks Canyon Road; U.S. Highway 287 between Rawlins Junction, Lander and Fort Washakie; and U.S. Highway 26 between Riverton and Burma Road. Wyoming highways 132, 137 and 138 on the Wind River Indian Reservation are also not slated for new signs.
"Some of them are in areas where there are more accesses. We are studying some of those roads," Beers said. "Basically, we are implementing the 70 mph law in as many places as possible right now."
The Legislature in 2015 changed state statute to read the speed limit posted on non-interstate highways could be either 65 or 70 mph, Merritt said. Under the former law, WYDOT determined what non-interstate highways would be easy to raise the posted speed limit and others that wouldn't.
"We were taking a long range look at it, OK, which ones could go immediately, and next, which ones we needed to take more looking at," Merritt said. "This last session they passed a new law, SF 72, saying the state statute speed limit is 70 mph. No more 65. We had to change our philosophy, and instead of which (highways) should go to 70 mph, it went to all."