town gets earful on South Cache project

By Jim Stanford on March 29, 2012

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This preliminary design shows where new sidewalks (in yellow) and bulb-out crossings would be added on Cache. Click to enlarge.

Last week the town held an open house at Center for the Arts to gather public input on a proposed redesign of South Cache Drive.

The $1.4 million reconstruction would add or improve sidewalks on Cache between Snow King and Pearl avenues. Work is slated to begin next year.

In the wake of the reconstruction of Redmond Street, which significantly narrowed the roadway, residents turned out in force to criticize the plan. As a starting point for discussion, town engineers presented a preliminary design for the sort of “Complete Streets” favored by Friends of Pathways.

Around midday, when I stopped by, comments were running about 3-to-1 against narrowing the road. Nearly everyone seemed to agree that the “bulb-out” pedestrian crossings have to go. Not only have they made Redmond a tight squeeze at intersections, but pedestrians tend not to use them as designed, an engineer told me. At least one resident called for a stop sign at Kelly and Cache.

The preliminary plan calls for an 8-foot-wide sidewalk, buffered with a strip of trees by the curb, on both sides of the street. Parking would be preserved on both sides, meaning there would not be room for bike lanes.

It is an attractive design, aimed at making Cache the type of pedestrian commercial corridor envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan. But I’m not sure it meets the realities of Wyoming winter.

Artist's rendition, from the Comp Plan, of what the Cache corridor could look like in, say, 10 or 15 years.

Wide streets are nice, not just for motorists but also pedestrians forced to walk in the road when thaws inevitably turn sidewalks into a mess of slush and ice. And why not give bikes a little more room, too?

I supported FoP’s plan for Redmond Street, but once it was finished, I couldn’t help but feel a little buyer’s remorse. Sometimes these proposals sound better in the abstract. Upon seeing how narrow the road had become, it was hard not to think maybe we overreached. To be fair, I want to give Redmond a full summer to see how it feels, for biking and driving, and recently I did pedal its length and found it acceptable.

Advocates say a narrower road will slow down vehicles and make the street safer for bicyclists, but I’m not so sure. This week’s rollover accident on Redmond, pictured on the front page of the Daily, will do little to quell critics’ ire.

Perhaps we could live with a grand boulevard-type sidewalk on one side of Cache, and a passable sidewalk on the other, leaving more room for cars, bikes and walkers to coexist.


Posted under Politics, Town Government

5 Comments so far

  1. elsie March 29, 2012 3:35 pm

    Wide streets are also nice when snow builds up from plowing operations. The west end of Pearl street can be a real pain to navigate when the snow builds up on the curbs and cars are parked further out into the street because of it. Maple, from the post office to Broadway is similarly narrow in the winter months. Narrowing the streets isn’t a good idea. At least not in my opinion.

  2. Je Moore March 29, 2012 4:27 pm

    Nice analysis and synthesis of the reactions.I reviewed the comments around 4:00 pm. Most were negative and a lot of the individuals visiting were design professionals. Also, I thnk that a lot of folks first thought when they saw the rollover was “it was probably the “bulb-out”.

  3. dp April 4, 2012 9:48 pm

    Couldn’t make the open house – actually surprised at the degree of negative comments. Live smack in the middle of Redmond and walk or bike to work most days. The revised street is great. It is tougher to negotiate, so you do drive slower, the science works. The shorter distance across the street created by the bulb outs does help me get across the street with my dog quicker. Incidentally, I would assume the driver of the car did the flipping, not a renegade bulb out.

  4. Brendan April 6, 2012 9:14 am

    Change can be hard for some folks. I get that. Sometimes change is for the better- but it is an acquired taste. In this case, and in the case of Redmond, the changes to the street scape favor the pedestrian – yes, even in the winter. I like this, as I enjoy walking around town without being worried that I will get hit by a car. Wide streets make people drive faster, putting pedestrians at risk. Narrower streets force motorists to drive slower and be more aware of their surroundings. The bulb-outs work, they narrow the intersection even more, forcing the motorist to slow down, and they protect the pedestrian by putting them further into peripheral view of the driver. Pedestrian friendly is the way to go in my opinion – it bolsters our community by getting people out of their cars and interacting with each other- it also supports the local economy by allowing visitors to enjoy the town we love without the necessary shield of vehicle to protect them from other cars and keeping them away from our local purveyors, and amenities(i.e. Town Square & Snow King)- its time to embrace change – just give it time…next thing you know you’ll be walking down the street and a car will pass you going 10 mph instead of 30 mph, you will notice and appreciate it as you feel safer walking around town.

  5. andy z April 15, 2012 5:21 am

    i used to live just off redmond and never complained about the biking. ‘complete’ streets seemed like it had a ring to it, and i remember hearing the pitch about added bike room, but that room decreased, not increased.

    where is the 1.4m coming from?

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