State lawmakers approved a bill draft this month that would allocate $10 million to the Wyoming Department of Transportation specifically for crosswalk improvements along school routes.
WYDOT director Luke Reiner suggested several amendments to the draft that were implemented during a Judiciary Committee meeting Nov. 10, including one that would ensure the crosswalk where a 9-year-old Lander girl was struck and injured on her way to school in August would be eligible for the funding – despite its location outside of an official school zone.
“That young lady was certainly on her way (to school), but it was not proximate to the school,” Reiner said. “We think you have to pay attention to some of those (areas).”
The incident in Lander also highlighted the need for an educational component to be part of Wyoming’s pedestrian safety effort, Reiner said, noting that the child who was struck in August had not activated the pedestrian crossing signal before entering the roadway.
“The light was green on the intersection, and so she started across and did not push the button,” he said. “A truck came from the other way, and the light operated appropriately – it sensed (the vehicle with) no traffic coming from the other way, and turned it green. So the truck went, and hit the young lady. …
“The issue in Lander was training for the young lady.”
WYDOT has produced a video that can be used to better educate pedestrians about crosswalk safety in Wyoming, he said, “because in my mind that’s half the battle.”
“You’ve got to push the button if you’re going to cross the road, otherwise bad things could happen,” he said. “Both sides have to be trained to follow the rules.”
During a Transportation Committee meeting Nov. 2, Reiner identified another issue that could have impacted the Lander incident: larger vehicles.
“The size of our vehicles has significantly grown, (and) with the size of our trucks and pickups anymore … what’s right in front of you, you can’t even see,” he said. “I’m starting to see … studies of trying to make it mandatory to have forward-facing cameras to try and (address that).”
If the Wyoming Legislature approves the $10 million allocation for crosswalks on school routes, Reiner said the money likely would be processed through WYDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program.
TAP grants don’t have to be used on school routes, he noted, but the state’s allocation would be earmarked for that purpose.
“This extra money, if it passes, would have a narrower niche in use than the greater Transportation Alternatives (Program),” he said.
Thirty-four applications totaling $24 million came in for TAP grants this year, Reiner added, but the program only had $10 million in federal dollars to spend.
“There’s fierce competition for that money,” he said.