By Jim Stanford on June 12, 2013
RV blocking both lanes of traffic? Check. Truck pulling into the intersection illegally? Check. Timid drivers not using both lanes before merging? Check.
All manner of poor motorist behavior was on display Monday along Broadway, as reconstruction of the five-way continues to cause gridlock downtown.
So much for the rosy optimism of April. With tourists pouring into Jackson Hole and being funneled through the only major east-west roadway, the congestion is some of the worst residents have seen.
How I came to be stuck in the jam was a mix of poor timing, naivete and a pressing list of errands in west Jackson too cumbersome for a bike and backpack. As I recounted for today’s News&Guide, I had avoided driving across town during business hours for three weeks, doing my grocery shopping at night and relying on bike as much as possible.
I knew there had been some congestion along Snow King Avenue, but I figured perhaps Broadway, at 2:15 p.m., wouldn’t be too bad. Haha! Awful. I was not only annoyed but embarrassed to be adding to the mess.
Unsuspecting tourists have little choice but to endure the traffic. Spring Gulch Road is an option for heading to and from the parks, and Snow King Avenue provides some relief (crews soon will be directing traffic from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.). But the takeaway lesson for locals is: DO NOT DRIVE.
There is a larger issue at play here, and that’s the lack of any long-range transportation planning by the community. We can’t keep routing every vehicle through the Town Square and Broadway, nor can the Moose-Wilson Road sustain a heavy volume. The five-way construction is temporary, but summertime traffic is a nightmare every year. A million or more tourists show up in vehicles. Pathways, bike routes and START bus will only get us so far.