Wyoming is closing 10 of its rest stops throughout its borders, but the head of the state’s trucking association believes the impact of the closings on the sector can be mitigated.
“[The Wyoming Department of Transportation] took a very calculated and methodical approach to determining which rest areas would be closed,” Sheila Foertsch, the managing director of the Wyoming Trucking Association, said. Foertsch said that each of the 10 rest stops that is being closed is located no more than seven miles from what she said was “a community or services of some sort, with parking.”
“Most of these rest areas are very small,” she said in a subsequent telephone discussion about the closures.
Still, she said, the decision by the state to close the facilities was “disappointing.”
Wyoming has three interstate highways going through it. The most heavily traveled, Froetsch said, is transcontinental Interstate 80. Transcontinental Interstate 90 also crosses the state. North-south Interstate 25 terminates at its intersection with I-90, but Foertsch said the I-25/I-80 intersection in Cheyenne draws a great deal of traffic, in many cases heading to or from the distribution centers of Salt Lake City, about six to seven hours west of Cheyenne on I-80.
In announcement of the closures late on Friday, June 5, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) listed the facilities to close: Lusk on US 18; Guernsey on US 26; Greybull on US 14-16-20; Moorcroft on Interstate 90; Star Valley on US 89; Ft. Steele on Interstate 80; Sundance on Interstate 90; Upton on US 16; and Orin Junction and Chugwater, both located on Interstate 25.
The shutdowns will be effective June 15.
“This will have real impacts, not only for travelers, but for the custodial staff contracted to provide services to these facilities,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in the statement announcing the closures. “These workers are our friends and neighbors in Wyoming communities around the state.”
Foertsch said a review of agency costs is ongoing but she was unaware of any further cuts that might hit the trucking sector.
Foertsch said she was encouraged by a recent discussion with Luke Reiner, director of WYDOT, about the state’s plans to encourage an additional supply of truck parking. “The bright spot, if there is one, [is that Reiner] assured me that current efforts to expand truck parking in Wyoming will continue, even though WYDOT, along with every other state agency, has been directed by the Governor to determine how to cut its expenses by 20%,” she wrote.
“Wyoming has been taking a hard look at truck parking, especially on I-80,” she said in the follow-up telephone call, adding that the state so far has done a “good job” in that area. Foertsch said the budget cuts could change that, “but [Reiner] did say that they are planning to continue to increase their efforts on parking.”