The Wyoming Department of Transportation is recommending a comprehensive study of how to create a safe crossing on Cody’s busy Big Horn Avenue, which doubles as U.S. Highway 14-A within the …
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is recommending a comprehensive study of how to create a safe crossing on Cody’s busy Big Horn Avenue, which doubles as U.S. Highway 14-A within the city.
A study of the transportation needs is the proper path forward in order for WYDOT, the Cody school district and the City of Cody to provide safe long-term pedestrian highway crossings near the Cody Middle School, said WYDOT District Engineer Pete Hallsten.
“Our immediate proactive action will be to articulate a more-defined plan for vehicle management,” Hallsten said.
“This plan must include school traffic, vehicular traffic and pedestrian movements on both sides of the highway,” he said, “so science-based engineering decisions can be made.”
Big Horn Avenue (U.S. 14-A) has historically been a major route that links businesses to Cody and surrounding communities. However, since the most recent construction of Big Horn Avenue in 2007, major housing developments have been built north of the highway. Unfortunately, WYDOT says, long-range pedestrian mobility planning was not included as part of the housing developments.
“We will be working to come up with short- and long-term solutions. A comprehensive study must be performed to help all partners — WYDOT, the city, the school district — select the correct type of highway crossing at the correct location,” Hallsten said.
“This planning effort will ensure the crossing is safe and will function at its inception and in the future as the City of Cody grows,” he said. “Doing ‘something’ just to do something when it’s not the right thing would set pedestrians and drivers on a course for failure.”
In October, WYDOT, the City of Cody and school officials met to discuss issues related to pedestrians and the Freedom/Big Horn Avenue intersection. They agreed to conduct an extensive WYDOT-funded traffic study between the intersection of the Big Horn Avenue and Wyo. Highway 120 and the intersection of Big Horn Avenue and Beacon Hill Road. These efforts are ongoing.
“We don’t believe a decision based on safety and good engineering would involve simply painting a crosswalk on the highway, nor simply installing a flashing sign,” Hallsten said. “We would be concerned with installing an arbitrary at-grade crossing that would give a false sense of security to a pedestrian — especially with the five lanes that a pedestrian must cross, operating speeds of vehicles on Big Horn Avenue, the fact that Freedom and Robert streets don’t line up from the south to north, and the east-west orientation of Big Horn Avenue, which results in sight issues with sunrise and sunset.”
Any future highway crossing, whether with via a traffic signal or a pedestrian overpass, would come with impacts to adjacent landowners, driving patterns, pedestrians and mobility, WYDOT says.
“Each of these options must be vetted to allow the most appropriate, least invasive and safest crossing for all users,” the department said in a release.