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State must put lights at N. Federal intersections; rest optional

Jun 21, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

A citizen committee has had its first meeting to discuss the North Federal Boulevard rebuild project in Riverton.

Business owners from Extra Care Auto, Sears, Woodward's, Trailhead Family Restaurant, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, McDonald's, Wyoming National Bank, Paintbrush Motel and several others met June 12 at the Reach Foundation to discuss the job, which is slated to begin in 2014.

John Gunnison, who was nominated to be the official spokesperson for the North Federal Boulevard rebuild committee, said "I think we are getting close with getting things taken care of. Tonight we should make some mileage out of everything."

WYDOT representative Robert Scheidemantel said he wanted to go over the dates of construction and assure those in attendance he was not a formal vote on anything.

Summer '14 start

"The project will begin sometime in the summer of 2014," Scheidemantel said. "I am merely here to tell you what WYDOT is going to do, and the rest is up to you on whether you want lighting, trees or whatever it is that you would like to have along North Federal."

A resident asked if WYDOT was going to put lighting at the intersections. Scheidemantel said his department is responsible for the lighting at the traffic-controlled intersections.

Jim Gores of James Gores and Associates, P.C., a civil engineering firm, said he wanted to share his experiences with how everything came together when Main Street was rebuilt.

"As a community we need to focus on how we want to see Federal Boulevard end up when it is all said and done," Gores said. "This project will affect the next 10, 15 or 20 years. What sort of business environment do we want to have? What image do we want to have for our community?"

'Array of options'

Gores said this project is something that affects everyone in Riverton, and most people want to know what is going to happen and how much money it will cost them.

"The signal lighting and the intersection lighting will be funded by WYDOT, and the rest might be partially funded by WYDOT, but the rest of it will probably be up to the community," Gores said.

"A mechanism for funding needs to be established. There is an entire array of options and things that could be done with Federal and decisions need to be made."

Rowena Bland, the Trailhead Family Restaurant representative, said new lighting is a financial obligation and a burden to business owners along North Federal Boulevard.

Gunnison asked Bland if it would change her negative feelings toward the lighting if he paid for all of the lighting.

"Honey, if you paid for them, I would have whatever kind of lights you wanted to put in," Bland said.

Who would pay?

Riverton councilman Richard Gard said he was trying to stay out of the discussion but couldn't help but speak up.

"I think you should look at whether or not there are funding sources out there for the lights," Gard said. "If you guys want them, that is what you need to go get."

Gard said there are 35 lights on Federal Boulevard.

"There are no cobra lights from Pershing clear out past Burger King on the west side of the street," Gard said. "Everything that is lit is on the east side of the street."

Gores said everyone needed to avoid getting into the debate about how many lights would be used in certain places.

"If you carefully look at Main Street, those lights are set in areas where they are not in front of someone's door or in someone's driveway," Gores said. "They are strategically placed, and all of this discussion will be resolved in the design issue."

Gard said lights would cost $12,500 for the 24 on South Federal Boulevard and cost the city $875 to maintain them.

"We are putting six per block on South Federal so if we put six per block on North Federal you will triple the lights you have now," Gard said. "I bring numbers to you. Do you want to spend at that level on North Federal? We didn't have a committee for South Federal, and you guys need to speak up and find out what you want."

Gard said the lights on Main Street cost a lot and were paid for by the citizens.

Gunnison said he would find more information on the North Federal Boulevard lighting and report his findings to the committee in a few weeks.

"We still have some homework to do before we decide on what it is exactly that we want," Gunnison said.

'The quality product'

Mayor Ron Warpness concluded the meeting by saying the North Federal Boulevard rebuild was an opportunity for the community to make the main corridor through town look appealing.

"We have a new McDonald's, the Trailhead has a beautiful new sign, and this is something where we don't need to look back and wonder why didn't we buy the quality project instead of buying something that is cheap and we end up regretting," Warpness said.

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