The presentation came from HDR project engineer Kyle Lehto and Fremont County planning department director Steve Baumann, who offered some background about the roadway that has been “recognized (as) a problem” locally for more than a decade.
Fremont County applied for a grant “in the early 2000s” to address Hillcrest Drive, as well as the road from Mortimore Lane to Sinks Canyon, Baumann recalled – but “right about the time that we were getting ready to do that” project, the “2010 flood hit and took out the bridge on Mortimore Lane.”
As a result, Baumann said, the county was only able to complete the portion of the project that included “the bridge to Sinks Canyon” at that time, “with the intent that we would continue” the rest of the work “at some later date.”
At this point, Baumann said, Hillcrest Drive has been “one of the top-ranked projects for the county 1 percent (infrastructure) funding committee for a really, really long time,” so “the county is going to proceed with this project … for public health and safety reasons.”
Councilmember Josh Hahn asked how many pedestrians have been struck by vehicles on Hillcrest Drive, but Lehto said HDR “didn’t look at crash data” as part of the strategic plan study.
“This has come up (due to) feedback the county has been getting for years and years … on people being able to use that road for more than just vehicle traffic,” Lehto said. “It’s currently used quite a bit by different modes of traffic, including pedestrians and bikes on top of just the vehicles. …
“The need is to basically create a safe and walkable corridor.”
Hillcrest Drive is 19 feet wide with “no shoulders to speak of,” Lehto said, but it’s part of a “well-used loop” that is “frequented by pedestrians and bicyclists.”
“The perception on the road (is it’s) unsafe to walk and bike there,” he explained. “Motorists also notice that as they’re driving, (and) a lot of the people that live there… feel like it’s uncomfortable as well.”
The “preferred alternative” that arose after that public meeting “uses a similar treatment to what’s currently on Mortimore Lane,” Lehto said.
The design envisions a 10-foot “shared space” for bikes and pedestrians on one side of Hillcrest Drive, with a two-foot buffer between the path and the driving lanes and a two-foot shoulder on the other side of the road.
The section is 34 feet wide – 15 feet wider than the current configuration – so the change “is going to impact some of those property owners” who live along Hillcrest Drive, Lehto noted, but the “Mortimore Lane inspired” plan received the “greatest amount of public support,” so “that’s ultimately what was chosen as the preferred alternative.”
Until that work can be completed, he said, HDR recommends implementing a “temporary” solution on Hillcrest Drive by creating an “advisory shoulder” to allow for “more of a shared space for pedestrians and bikes and vehicles.”
HDR says the interim plan would require “a public outreach effort to educate the public on how to use advisory shoulders.”
“Getting the educational awareness part out (is) going to be really, really important,” Lehto said.
The council will consider adopting the strategic plan at a future meeting, according to staff, who earlier noted that 30 percent of the study area is located within city limits, and that Lander participated in the strategic plan study using funding from the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
For more information call the City of Lander at 332-2870.