Casper City Council at The Lyric (Stew Dyer / Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council has approved a comprehensive study aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety and connectivity in the Town of Evansville. The Evansville East Sidewalk and Trail Study was conducted by the Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO.

As the fiscal agent for the MPO, the City of Casper had to approve the plan even if it was outside of the City of Casper.

The study was one of three reports from the MPO accepted by the council at this week’s City Council meeting on Sept. 19, including the Casper Area Transit Electric Fleet Conversion Study and the North Platte River Park No. 2 Simple Master Plan.

This study serves as a guide for Evansville in planning future sidewalk and trail improvements, particularly on the town’s east side. The focus is on connecting residential neighborhoods to parks, businesses and other trails. Funded by the MPO, the study also received $25,000 in federal monies approved on June 16, 2022.

“The intent of this study is to provide the Town of Evansville with a guiding document when planning pathways and sidewalk improvements on the east side of Town,” the report states. It lays out a vision for a new connecting loop pathway around Evansville, safety measures and standards for installing new sidewalks.

Key study goals include linking neighborhoods on Evansville’s eastern side to places like Reshaw Park and the Rails to Trails Pathway. The study also aims to enhance recreational and multi-modal transportation opportunities.

A map of sidewalk gaps from the Evansville East Sidewalk and Trail Study

One of the crucial areas identified in the study is the safety around Evansville Elementary School. With the school situated in the center of a residential area, the congestion during pick-up and drop-off times creates safety concerns. There are as many as 13 crosswalks around the school, exacerbating confusion for both pedestrians and drivers.

“The walkability around the school is a very precarious situation for children and parents during pick-up and drop-off times,” the report notes. Current conditions indicate gaps in sidewalks, inadequate ADA accessibility, and safety concerns like utilities impeding pathways.

Town staff, who were actively involved in shaping the study, have already earmarked specific areas for upcoming sidewalk projects. As the study details, “A built-out network will continue to provide those who need to walk and want to walk an opportunity to do so safely and with a destination through expanded connection.”

The study approval is the final step in a process that began with a draft by MPO staff and subsequent approvals from both the MPO Technical and Policy Committees on Aug. 17.