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Safety upgrades eyed for Wilson

December 3, 2018

At the behest of concerned citizens, the county is seeking help from the Wyoming Department of Transportation to make downtown Wilson safer.

In a Nov. 5 letter, the Teton County Board of County Commissioners requested that WYDOT work with the county to hire a transportation consultant who would evaluate options for improving safety in Wilson, such as adding sidewalks, pathways and additional crosswalks, reconfiguring parking along the highway and resurfacing the road.

The letter follows a meeting in which the Wilson Advocacy Committee, including resident Susie Temple, urged commissioners to take action.

“We are asking for your help envisioning an improved Wilson that balances three things: The needs of its citizens to travel around Wilson safely with alternative modes of travel such as biking and walking; the history of this little western town and its character; and the reality of a very busy commuter highway that bisects the town,” Temple said.

The county’s letter asks WYDOT to contribute $50,000 in planning funds, with remaining money coming from Teton County or private contributions. WYDOT District Engineer Keith Compton said the agency is pursuing federal dollars to fund the planning.

Tim Young, a Wilson resident and the director of Wyoming Pathways, said he was pleased with the county’s letter.

“It seems like good progress,” he said. “Our comprehensive plan and the Integrated Transportation Plan say we should be encouraging a pedestrian-friendly environment in Wilson. It’s Teton County’s public policy, and it’s WYDOT’s right of way and jurisdiction, so that’s why the two need to work together.”

One chief concern of the Wilson citizen group is speeding on Highway 22. Though the speed limit through the town is only 25 mph, studies show that vehicles approaching or descending Teton Pass sometimes travel through the town center at up to 59 mph.

WYDOT, Teton County and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation are working to place radar feedback signs along Highway 22 in Wilson. They’re the same signs already deployed on Broadway and Highway 390, which flash a vehicle’s speed.

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation Director Jon Mobeck said his organization will purchase the signs for the county and WYDOT to maintain and operate. He said similar signs have been proven to reduce speeds by several miles per hour on Broadway.

“This is a combination of both human safety and wildlife protection,” Mobeck said, noting that moose frequent downtown Wilson and one was hit by a car there over the summer.

At its Dec. 4 meeting, the county commission will review an agreement with WYDOT for the radar speed feedback signs.

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