I-80 Evanston closure delays holiday travel

Dec 22, 2022, 6:18 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm

EVANSTON, Wyoming — This is the slow season for Evanston, Wyoming and hotels and restaurants aren’t as busy now as they are in the summer.

“We do really poorly during the winter,” David Rohde, who is the general manager of the Best Western Dunmar Inn said.

However, that all changes when winter does what it did last Thursday night.

“We’re talking about a 300% uptick in our seasonal average,” Rohde said.

Whenever Interstate 80 is closed in Evanston because of unsafe travel conditions, all the traffic coming from Utah and the west have to stop in Evanston because the gates are on the east side of town.

The closure overnight into Thursday morning lasted a few hours, which brings a lot more people into restaurants and hotels.

“There will be 18-wheelers parked all along the road and you’ll be like, I hope they didn’t park in front of the hotel entrance again,” Rohde said.

However, it is all that traffic Evanston mayor Kent Williams is worried about.

“It becomes far more difficult to get an emergency vehicle, an ambulance, or a police or fire vehicle around to help people that might need it,” he said.

Mayor Williams says all the traffic creates a serious public health concern.

When roads get busy because of an I-80 shutdown, there are times emergency vehicles can’t quickly get to where they have to go.

“Honestly, it’s kind of scary when that happens and there’s no way to know when it might,” Mayor Williams said.

There were no major issues Thursday morning with the I-80 closure, but Mayor Williams knows the potential is always there.

Of course, there is also the business side, which Rohde says helps several hotels and restaurants get through the slow winter.

“Without the freeway shutdowns, we would not be able to make it,” he said.

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I-80 Evanston closure delays holiday travel