New Speed Limits

The road to Yellowstone from Cody will be part of a new experiment in Wyoming. It will have two speed limits: one for night, and one for day.
Highway 14/16/20 is Wyoming’s only road to a Yellowstone entrance…in the summer, thousands of tourists are streaming to the park. In the winter hundreds of animals graze in the place locals call Wapiti Valley, or the North Fork.
Wyoming’s Game and Fish biologists say more than a thousand deer and two hundred elk live in Wapiti Valley and on the North Fork in the wintertime. It’s their winter range. At dusk and dawn, the animals are more active, and much harder to see. Wyoming’s Department of Transportation commissioned a study by a private firm and that study found that more than 70 percent of the collisions on this road happen when people hit a deer, or an elk.
In March, WYDOT increased the speed limit on two lane highways statewide from 65 to 70. By summer, several locals complained. A survey showed most thought 70 was too fast for this wildlife corridor.
WYDOT Chief Engineer Greg Frederick said, “The public comment did weigh into account when we go into the 70 mph speed limit, or when we reduce that speed limit.”
Frederick was on hand at a Wapiti public meeting when residents were told the 70 mph limit would be reduced to 65, and there will be a 55 mile per hour limit at night. A rare dual speed limit in Wyoming.
Frederick said, “We’re implementing a nighttime speed limit in Pinedale for animal crashes down there and that’s going to be part of a long-time study.”
Frederick said the Wapiti nighttime speed limit will also be studied. After WYDOT’s private engineering firm presented their preliminary findings, some people spoke out for the new lower speed limit, and some against it.
Jeff Poffenbarger said, “I want to not criminalize the highway where the highway patrol or the local law enforcement can write tickets at the drop of a hat and make it complex and difficult for me to drive…Variable speed limits are not the way to increase safety, they decrease. You actually increase accidents because drivers are doing this.”
WYDOT spokesman Cody Beers said the new speed limit will probably be posted December 1st.