With 20 people dying in crashes in five year period, Casper area projects recommended for safety - Casper, WY Oil City News
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With 20 people dying in crashes in five year period, Casper area projects recommended for safety

A three-vehicle crash closed traffic in one lane on Wyoming Boulevard on Thursday, September 26, in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The final draft of a new Long Range Transportation Plan says that the Casper area saw 6,234 crashes between 2013 and 2017.

21% of those crashes resulted in either minor or severe injuries.

“Over the five-year period from 2013 to 2017, the Casper Area experienced 16 collisions that resulted in 20 fatalities,” the draft plan states. “Of those where a cause is known, three of the fatal crashes involved alcohol use. Four crashes involved pedestrians or bicyclists.”

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The Casper City Council will hear a presentation regarding the draft plan during their Tuesday, Jan. 14 work session.

The draft highlights the intersections of CY Avenue and Wyoming Boulevard and Second Street and Southeast Wyoming Boulevard as most prone to crashes in the area.

“The intersection of 2nd Street and Southeast Wyoming Boulevard saw 29 crashes in the five-year period, the second highest of any intersection in the region (CY Avenue and Wyoming ranked number one with 34 crashes),” the draft states. “CY Avenue and Poplar Street ranked fifth-highest, with 21 crashes, but also had a high concentration of bicycle-involved collisions.”

“The highest concentration of pedestrian-involved crashes occurred in downtown Casper, which is one of the most walkable areas in the region. At least 15 pedestrian-involved crashes occurred in Downtown Casper, with seven incidents on 1st Street alone.”

Second Street saw the most number of crashes between 2013-2017, experiencing 205 crashes per mile.

“The second highest corridor was CY Avenue, with 155 crashes per mile during the same timeframe,” the draft adds. “Wyoming Boulevard ranked third highest with 97 crashes per mile.”

“It is important to note that these corridors also have the highest roadway volumes, thus increasing the likelihood for crashes to occur.”

The draft plan has been prepared by the Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and a consultant firm they contracted called Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates.

It highlights some near and longer term priority projects for Casper, Mills, Evansville, Bar Nunn and Natrona County.

Some of the near term project recommendations included in the draft plan aim to address some safety concerns.

One such highlight are recommended improvement to the CY and Poplar intersection.

“Issues at this intersection were identified during an active transportation audit with stakeholders and policymakers during Spring 2019 workshops,” the draft states. “This project proposes treatments at a collision hotspot that would ‘complete the intersection,’ including extended curbs with tightened radii, additional medians and refuge islands, and high visibility crosswalks.”

The draft states that these improvements could have the following benefits:

• Reduce crossing distances and exposure for pedestrians and bicyclists
• Reduce turning speeds
• Enhance user comfort
• Improve user visibility
• Activate existing pocket parks

Another recommendation would be to reconstruct and improve Poplar and First Street. The Wyoming Department of Transportation and the City of Casper are already planning to carry out some of these improvements.

“A combination of bridge replacement and complete streets projects, this effort will revolve around WYDOT widening the Poplar Street bridge over the North Platte River in 2021,” the draft plan explains. “In addition to reconstruction of S. Poplar Street from W. 1st Street to Collins Dr., the intersection of S. Poplar and W. 1st Street will be reconstructed to accommodate additional turning lanes that will significantly increase capacity.”

“Critically, widening the bridge will allow for sidewalks on both sides, addressing a major safety and equity issue as pedestrians and bicyclists currently do not have a safe point of passage between the 1st Street bridge and the Tate Pumphouse.”

The draft recommends adding ten-foot sidewalks to both sides of the bridge.

Another recommendation is to create sidepaths along Wyoming Boulevard.

“This project was identified as a priority by the community during our active transportation workshop where the public was able to draw their ideal bicycle network, and in stakeholder feedback of the list of prioritized projects from the evaluation and scoring exercise,” the draft states. “The project would provide a continuous sidepath for nonmotorized users of all ages and abilities from CY Avenue to E. Yellowstone Highway in Evansville,
where it would intersect with the Casper Rail Trail.”

“A feasibility and conceptual design study of the project was completed for the MPO in 2013. The feasibility assessments included an offset of 20 to 27 feet to accommodate the potential future widening of Wyoming Boulevard. The proposed alternative used for Connecting Crossroads cost estimates would provide a 10-ft wide, detached, two-way multi-use path on the north side of Wyoming Boulevard that would have the fewest right-of-way impacts, connect to the future multimodal network, and provide more comfortable refuge from prevailing winds than the southern side.”

The City of Casper says that the MPO Policy Committee may approve the final draft on Jan. 23.

The plan will be to guide transportation infrastructure improvements in Casper, Mills, Evansville, Bar Nunn and Natrona County over the next 30 years. The previous such plan was finished in 2014.

A $320,000 federal grant helped fund the process of creating the new Long Range Transportation Plan.

That process has included soliciting input from the various municipal governments and the public through workshops and online surveys.