CASPER, Wyo. — The portion of East Second Street in front of the Wyoming Medical Center may soon revert to a 30 mph speed zone.
King Boulevard between South Poplar Street and West 13th Street may be bumped up to 40 mph.
The Casper City Council is likely to make a final decision on these proposed changes on Nov. 19. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, they’ll vote on whether to establish a public hearing on the changes for their next council meeting.
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During an October work session, the council indicated they were likely to support these changes when a formal vote comes up.
The council decided to lower the speed limit to 20 mph along East Second Street from South Conwell Street through to the downtown this spring.
While they now appear headed to revert that speed limit to 30 mph, other streets around the WMC will remain as 20 mph zones. Those include:
- South Conwell Street from East First to East Fifth
- East Fifth from South McKinley to South Conwell
- All street between South McKinley and South Conwell and East Second and East Fifth
Changing East Second back to a 30 mph zone and King Boulevard to a 40 mph would come with an estimated $800 cost in signage changes.
The city council appears to be diverging from what city staff have recommended.
They recommend leaving the area in front of the Wyoming Medical Center as a 20 mph zone, but reverting the portion of East Second Street between South McKinley Street and South Park Street back to a 30 mph speed zone.
The initial decision to make the speed zone changes in front of the hospital grew out of safety concerns there.
Councilmen Steve Freel and Mike Huber said during the October work session that they had initially been against creating an alternating speed zone with different limits as it could be used as a speed trap by law enforcement.
Huber referred to this as a “yo-yo effect.”
Freel said he was in support of the proposal from city staff. Huber, on the other hand, said he would be more comfortable moving back to a 30 mph zone all along East Second, including in front of the WMC.
Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson and Councilmen Steve Cathey and Ray Pacheco expressed support for reverting the whole stretch back to 30 mph.
Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz said that since the 20 mph speed zone hadn’t so far appeared to reduce the number of crashes, maybe a lower speed limit wasn’t the solution.
She asked whether adding stop signs at the place of a pedestrian crosswalk might be more effective.
Councilman Ken Bates suggested flashing lights on the crosswalk might be helpful.
Police Chief Keith McPheeters said that crashes have gone up since the changes were implemented. He said this might be due to the fact that some drivers are following the 20 mph limits and others are not, making crashes potentially more likely.
He added that drivers looking at cell phones may also be contributing to the increase in accidents.
Since the change went into place this spring, McPheeters said that the available data may not be completely representative of what traffic concerns the area would face over the long-term.
While city staff originally only recommended lowering the speed limit in front of the hospital, city council decided to stretch the 20 mph zone through to the downtown to avoid creating the yo-yo effect of alternating 20 and 30 mph areas.
A memo from Police Chief Keith McPheeters and Public Services Director Andrew Beamer says that speed limits are “generally established at the speed at which 85% of traffic is traveling at or below.”
This is done because studies have shown this “yields the lowest crash risk.”
The city has been collecting additional speed data since the change was implemented.
“The 85th percentile speeds have reduced from 34 mph to 28 mph in front of the hospital,” McPheeters and Beamer’s memo states. “This data suggests that the speed reduction in front of the hospital has been marginally effective, with traffic tending to speed up between downtown and the hospital.”
Based on such speed study data, the 30 mph zone in front of the WMC was appropriate, the memo adds.
Beamer told the council the original proposal, however, was based off of the number of crashes in the area and not the average traffic speed there.
Council began to seek public input on speed zones in Casper in September.
If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:
Mayor Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 577-6042
Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 337-5057
- (307) 277-7377
Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 473-1247
Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 262-8237
Councilman Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 259-1276
Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 472-1837
Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 266-4188
Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 359-3673
Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 258-1226
Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601
If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.