The Wyoming Department of Transportation could save $3 million on five construction projects costing $54.2 million by adopting recommendations from outside consultants, a new report says.
The department rejected recommendations for even more savings because of a potential reduction in highway safety and functionality, according to the report.
Gov. Matt Mead requested the report to demonstrate any savings WYDOT could achieve and to mollify critics who claimed the department could manage its funds better.
The governor is seeking additional money for the department to maintain the state's highway system.
The consultants, from five of the nation's leading engineering firms, made recommendations on possible design changes that could produce savings.
They recommended shaving an estimated $8.3 million from the $54.2 million in projects. But WYDOT and the federal Highway Administration decided to implement 17 of the firms' 37 recommendations for a total estimated savings of $3 million.
The recommendations focus on reducing design standards to the minimum of the recognized acceptable range, which results in a potential reduction in the highway’s safety and functionality, said the report from Wyoming Transportation Commission Chairman Jim Latta.
"Most of the recommendations suggested narrowing of travel lanes and safety shoulders and steepening the embankment slopes on the edge of the highway," the report said.
"Other recommendations for changes in construction sequencing or phasing would result in additional inconvenience for travelers, such as requiring a 100-mile detour around one project."
The report also identified other lesser savings at WYDOT, such as $180,000 per year in energy costs disclosed through an energy audit.