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WYDOT to suspend Class W weight restriction permit on WYO 116 – effective May 15

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Photos courtesy of WYDOT.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation has announced that a recent highway road review was conducted along the Wyoming Highway 116 corridor due to accelerated and rapid roadway damage noted south of Upton from RM 2.5 to RM 5.5.

As a result of this road review, WYDOT has determined it is necessary to suspend the current allowable weight restriction to protect the State’s roadway system from the unexpected impact of heavier loads and increased frequency of truck traffic. 

According to WYDOT, Wyoming Highway 116 has seen a notable increase in heavy truck traffic due to the recent demand for transporting frac-sand from near Aladdin, WY to the north of Wright, WY.  WYO Highway 116 currently requires a Class W permit for vehicles weighing more than 117,000 lbs.  

At the request of District 4, the Department’s Materials Lab conducted a review along the WY116 corridor. The study measured rut depth, obtained surface cores, and performed base/type/depth determinations. This study found excessive rutting, horizontal cracking, and pavement failure have increased substantially in isolated areas and have also resulted in portions of the sub-base soils failing as well – due in some part to the increase in traffic volumes and the number of haul trucks with weights allowed by the Class W permit.  

Upon review of the study, the Materials Lab has recommended to limit the gross weights to 117,000 pounds in accordance with formula limitations, reduce posted speeds at heavily damaged locations, repair heavily damaged locations and reevaluate restrictions, and evaluate a ‘seasonal load restriction’ program to avoid damage during the spring thaw when the subgrade is at its weakest.  

Utilizing proactive measures to preserve the existing road surface and structure of WY116 – particularly from MM 0 to 9, WYDOT reported they will suspend the Class W Permit on WY116. The new weight restriction will be dropped to a 117,000-pound weight limit, effective Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

The weight restriction will be in place until such a time as remedial measures are undertaken to increase the load-bearing capacity of the highway. WYDOT feels that if the Department does not implement these restrictions, the road will deteriorate at an accelerated rate that funding will not be able to keep pace with, therefore rendering the route unsafe and potentially unpassable for motorists. This action will allow the highway to remain open for travelers and haulers bearing the new maximum weight load limits.

­Looking ahead, WYDOT has added WY116 to their Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). The STIP is a dynamic document that identifies the programmed construction and preliminary engineering projects of planned highway, bridge, and airport improvements scheduled over six years. The 2024 STIP has placed two WY116 projects on its schedule. The first to be completed will be a mill and overlay on WY116 from MM 16 to 22 north of Upton, in 2026 and a mill and overlay with isolated reconstruction on WY116 south of Upton from MM 0 to 13 in 2027. 

WYDOT reports that they appreciate and value the importance of supporting the energy and commerce industry and acknowledge much of that requires transporting materials to locations throughout Wyoming. WYDOT said they also strive to follow the Department’s purpose of “supporting Wyoming’s economy while safely connecting communities and improving the quality of life”, while supporting their mission of “providing a safe and effective transportation system”.

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