Motorists who need permission to travel on sections of closed highways when conditions allow can sign up for the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Authorized Travel (WAT) program.
WYDOT began accepting applications for the 2017-2018 season in September. Motorists who signed up for previous travel seasons and received approval will need to reapply for this season.
“We only close roads when it’s necessary to ensure the safety of the traveling public,” said Vince Garcia, WYDOT’s GIS/ITS manager. “Our closure points are limited to where WYDOT has gates to block traffic. That means portions of a closed road may be passable if an area that’s impacted by a crash or storm is miles away.”
Under the WAT program, WYDOT gives travelers permission to travel if their destinations are between the closure gates and impassable portions of the road. The program is designed primarily for local commuters who travel between home and work, school, medical appointments and agricultural property.
WAT doesn’t give permission to travel on every closed road or to travel during every road closure. WYDOT grants permission based on current conditions and if it’s safe to travel.
Last winter, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and WYDOT responded to a motorist who drove past a closure gate near Farson on WYO 28, which was closed for two days.
The motorist encountered poor road conditions and was stuck, but Patrol and WYDOT rescued the person. However, with parts of the state having poor cell service, a motorist in a similar situation may not be able to contact emergency workers for help. Plus, snow plow drivers clearing a closed road may not expect to encounter any other vehicles on the road.
Motorists traveling on a closed road without permission may incur a maximum possible penalty of $750 fine and 30 days in jail.
To apply for the WAT program, motorists can visit the Wyoming Travel Information Service website (http://wyoroad.info) and click on the WAT icon. Motorists will need to submit justification for travel, road sections they need to travel, and driver contact and vehicle information.
After motorists apply, the Wyoming Highway Patrol will review the applications. If approved, drivers will receive an email when they are authorized to travel on sections of closed roads. Motorists will also receive an identification number that will allow them to access an automated phone system to check if they are authorized to travel on sections of closed roads.
Motorists without internet access can call WYDOT’s Public Affairs at (307) 777-4375 to request a WAT program application.