Wyoming House Approves Bill Authorizing Use of HOV Lanes
On February 21, the Wyoming House approved Senate Bill SF21, authorizing the use and enforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in Wyoming. HOV lanes are lanes that are reserved for cars with more than one occupant. Providing preference for carpoolers is a tool used by highway engineers to incentivize drivers to ride with others, decreasing the total number of cars on the road and resulting in less congestion.
State lawmakers have been reluctant to authorize enforcement of HOV lanes for a variety of reasons. Highway congestion is relatively rare in most places in Wyoming, so there has been little impetus to create them. Politicians have cited libertarian concerns. Last year, Natrona County Rep. Jerry Obermueller voted against HOV lanes because it would slow down drivers who prefer a solo commute. So, while there has been some acceptance of HOV lane legislation, the capacity for local jurisdictions to enforce HOV violations through fines and citations has not been approved until now.
This is a win for Teton County, which is the only county in Wyoming that may want HOV lanes, and only on Highway 22 which suffers from traffic congestion during peak summer seasons when visitor traffic can bring the road to a crawl at certain times.
The Alliance’s recently released Jackson Hole Transportation Study addresses Highway 22 traffic problems and recommends the consideration of HOV lanes as a possible solution to the congestion. The passage of SF21 allows WYDOT to include HOV lanes in its deliberations.
The bill now returns to the Senate where it is expected to pass.