WYDOT warns that some roads may go unplowed thanks to new ‘limited budget’

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) may be unable to keep roadways clear of snow this year due to some serious budget cuts. 

According to a statement released by WYDOT on October 21st, the state of Wyoming “will have to strictly adhere to our winter maintenance budget, which means there likely won’t be any wiggle room to go over budget if we have a particularly severe winter,” said WYDOT Director Luke Reiner. 

“However, we will continue to provide winter maintenance services based on our limited budget,” Reiner said.

For the last several years, WYDOT crews have plowed snow wherever and whenever it was needed, allowing roadways to remain mostly clear throughout the winter months. However, this year WYDOT has made the decision to return to “its original method of determining highway priority and how many hours of snow removal each highway receives.”

This means that some roadways may remain unplowed for periods of time, overnight plowing may not be possible, and road shoulders may not be plowed until the next day. 

“That means crews will still plow the roads but they may remain snowy. Road shoulders also may not get plowed immediately and crews may have to get to those sections later or the next day. WYDOT will also continue to use road traction materials such as salt and magnesium chloride and has a budgeted amount for those supplies,” the statement reads. 

WYDOT operates in five districts, and sorts each of the state’s major roadways into levels and sublevels, which will determine where the roadway falls on the plowing list priority-wise. 

The roadways are sorted into the following categories:

  • Level 1A roads — These receive 24-hour service.
  • Level 1B roads — These receive up to 20 hours service per day with minimum service necessary to allow traffic to move safely at a restricted speed. Plowing methods and frequency should be sufficient to keep snow ridges and dangerous drifting to a minimum. 
  • Level 2 roads — These receive up to 16 hours per day for traffic observing reasonable winter driving precautions. Plowing methods and frequency should be sufficient to minimize minor snow ridges and dangerous drifting.
  • Level 3A roads — WYDOT will provide minimum service necessary for traffic observing reasonable winter driving precautions and speeds. Plowing methods and frequency should be sufficient to minimize larger snow ridges and dangerous drifting during daylight hours. Crews will apply abrasives and chemicals when necessary on hills, curves and hazardous locations. WYDOT will close the road when warranted by visibility limitations or other extreme situations. If necessary, WYDOT will allow roads to close because of the weather and reopen as soon as resources are available.
  • Level 3B roads — WYDOT will provide minimum service as resources become available. Crews will apply abrasives and chemicals as necessary on hills, curves and hazardous locations. Road conditions shall govern whether the public may travel at their own risk, as conditions allow.
  • Level 4 roads — WYDOT closes roads in the fall as mandated by heavy snow and weather, and reopens them as soon as practical in the spring.

To view the full snowplow priority plan, visit WYDOT’s website.