Wyoming has some less-traveled two lane highways that could allow 70 mph speeds, such as Wyo. 120 between Meeteetse and Thermopolis, Wyo. 120 north to the Montana border or U.S. 14-A’s new four-lane between Cody and Powell, said Coe in an email Sunday.
On the Senate floor last month, Coe also referenced Wyo. 20-26 between Casper and Shoshoni. He deadpanned that his car “knows the way” and that he just lets it go, hinting he might travel over the 65 mph limit on the stretch.
“This is a good little bill, and I thought long and hard about it: I don’t have a conflict of interest,” he said, to laughter from his colleagues.
The acting president of the Senate joked the bill was intended to save Coe’s driver’s license.
“This bill probably would have no effect on how I drive, anyways,” parried Coe. “So it won’t save the license.”
Cody Beers, spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, theorized the bill was written because people want to get from point A to point B a little quicker.
Raising the speed limit would require more work and money on the department’s part. Employees would have to alter 65 mph signs to 70 mph signs. And the department would have to monitor those 70 mph roads to determine over time whether the increased speed is safe, Beers said.
“This bill just gives WYDOT the discretion, if they so choose, to up some of these roads to 70,” Coe said. “Nothing in the bill says that they have to.”
The department would have to keep higher speeds in mind when designing new highways. For example, slopes on highway shoulders would need to be gentler and highways wider to accommodate greater speeds, Beers said.
All of Montana’s two lane highways are 70 mph. Some stretches on Interstate 80 and I-15 in Utah allow 80 mph, Coe said.
From Powell to Cody, a motorist may save a minute or two. A driver might cut 10 or 15 minutes making the 160-mile drive from Powell to Riverton. “That’s a ball park figure,” Beers said.
The House Transportation, Highways and Military Affair Committee will consider the bill today (Tuesday), Coe said.
While addressing the Senate, Coe said there’d been indications WYDOT might not pay much attention to the bill if it passes, given the department’s current budget crunch.
(CJ Baker contributed reporting to this story.)