Oct 21, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterCentral Wyoming College staff approached the City of Riverton on Tuesday to request help addressing safety issues at the intersection of Main and Hill streets.
Professor Robert Hussa said a student was injured this month in a traffic accident near there, and CWC employees have observed or experienced dozens more.
"A staff member totaled her car at the corner this summer," Hussa said. "I decided it was time we investigated that a bit."
He said he asked a group of 35 co-workers during a recent staff meeting to raise their hands if they have seen a "near miss" accident at Main and Hill street.
"There were 35 respondents," Hussa said. "So I decided I'd put out an e-mail to the (entire) staff."
He said 83 employees responded to the e-mail poll, with many people adding stories about their experiences at the intersection.
"We have a problem there," Hussa said, reading some of the anecdotes. "'It's a very dangerous intersection, and it's one I avoid. ... If you approach Main Street from the college side, you can't see over your right shoulder. ... It's hard to judge traffic when you pull out because it's coming around a bend. ... We absolutely need a stop light there, and we need it now, before there's a fatality.'"
Riverton City Council members agreed with Hussa, but they said Main Street, or Wyoming Highway 26, is controlled by the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
"The city doesn't have authority to put a light there," Mayor Ron Warpness said. "But I think we can join together and make the effort with WyDOT to do that."
The council passed a resolution in 2008 requesting that WyDOT conduct a traffic study in the area. Public services director Bill Urbigkit said WyDOT officials determined there wasn't enough traffic or accidents at the intersection to justify a stoplight. The agency agreed to address the issue again in the future, but Urbigkit said budget cuts have forced them to eliminate that possibility.
"It's not even in (budgets for) future years," Urbigkit said. "But we passed a resolution before, and we can prepare one again to put more pressure on WyDOT."
He encouraged residents and council members to speak with their legislators and representatives at the Wyoming Transportation Commission about the problem.
Hussa said he would ask CWC President Jo Anne McFarland to write a letter that could be distributed to state officials.
Councilman Rich Gard asked whether citizens could raise money to pay for a local solution to the safety concern, adding that Main Street's intersection with Major Avenue also is dangerous. Urbigkit said WyDOT likely would have to approve any traffic lights or signage along the highway.
"I think those are things we ought to approach (WyDOT with)," Gard said. "It is a traffic problem, and we need to pay attention to that."
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