Plans firming up on N. Federal rebuild; city seeks input for last time on Tuesday

Feb 3, 2013 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

A Tuesday meeting at Riverton City Hall is the last chance for citizens to give input on the North Federal Boulevard rebuild in Riverton before plans are finalized.

The North Federal Boulevard Planning Committee presented an interim report at the Riverton City Council meeting Jan. 22, listing some changes the roadway will undergo and their recommendations for beautifying the boulevard.

Now, the City of Riverton invites residents to attend the city council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday if they want to comment on the Federal Boulevard project.

Last chance

Public services director Bill Urbigkit said no more public hearings are planned before the Wyoming Department of Transportation begins its preparations.

"We need to make these decisions now so they can incorporate it in their plans to move forward," Urbigkit said.

'The front door'

The public will be able to speak during the hearing, and they can express to the mayor and city council members what enhancements they'd like to see on the busy boulevard.

"It's really the front door of our house," Urbigkit said, adding that the boulevard a prime main thoroughfare for people who live in Riverton and for visitors who enter or leave the city from the north. On average, more than 22,000 vehicles traverse North Federal Boulevard every day, according to data reported to the city.

North Federal Boulevard Plan-ning Committee chairman Jon Gunnison reported on findings by James Gores and Associates, the civil engineering firm contracted by the city last year to help plan the improvements.

The planning committee was assembled by the mayor and city council. Its mission is to represent the business owners affected by the project and provide recommendations to the city council and the engineering firm.

In 2014, WyDOT is scheduled to replace utilities and roadway surfaces on North Federal Boulevard from just north of Webbwood Road to East Washington Avenue.

The report's stated purpose for the North Federal Boulevard project is:

1. To develop a community-wide consensus on street scape amenities, outside the scope of WyDOT's intended construction that will enhance the visual fabric of the area.

2. To assist in planning actions to mitigate construction period disruptions to the businesses along North Federal Boulevard.

3. To determine feasible sources of funding to help defray the costs of the aforementioned non-WyDOT provided project components.

In several of their meetings, the committee provided input, taking in consideration the estimated costs, on "possible amenities that could extend the city's Main Street visual theme." Listed in the report for possible amenities were decorative street lighting, landscaping and sidewalk coloring.

Gunnison said lighting proved to be the most difficult for the committee to choose. In the end, the committee recommended two different options.

"They would like to see the decorative luminaries put in place if the city can find supplemental funds as opposed to standard cobra head lighting, which is the other option," Gores said.

"Our one selection of LED method is based on long-term savings, and a lot of our decision making was based on not only availability of funds but also the nature of Federal Boulevard as a thoroughfare," Gunnison said. "(It was) quite a bit different from Main Street, and there was a lot of feeling that we wanted to mirror (that)."

Riverton's downtown section of Main Street was rebuilt in 2004.

An exact date for the construction and completion of the possible amenities is pending.

Bike lanes, slower speeds

The Rev. Dr. Aaron Justice approached the city council with concerns about pedestrian safety and possible improvements for Riverton's busier streets.

Bike lanes, roundabouts and decreasing the maximum speed were some of his ideas.

"I believe with just a bit of vision for the future and an eye towards inclusivity for all of Riverton's residents we can make North Federal Boulevard into a wonderful artery for transportation as well as a destination place," he said.

In his summary of suggestions to the mayor and city council, he said pedestrians and cyclists felt "endangered" and "out of place" because the streets in Riverton are occupied by fast moving cars and trucks. He said that decreasing the speed limit to 20 mph instead of 30 mph on Federal Boulevard would add 72 seconds to the 1.2-mile drive from City Park to the Webbwood Road intersection.

"It would make a world of difference to pedestrians and bicyclists," he said.

A vehicle driving 30 mph is too fast for a pedestrian to dodge, he added.

Justice said bike lanes would favor people who have no other form of transportation or who choose to use bicycles instead of vehicles. He said that Main Street "has become a raceway and not a destination," and the newspaper carrier who delivered to his family's business on Main Street was hit by a car last spring.

He said his suggestions would increase safety, welcome more foot traffic and increase revenue for businesses.

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