SHERIDAN — While a town of 17,000 may not have “traffic” when compared with a metropolis like Denver, Chicago or Los Angeles, drivers still get used to typical traffic flow through town and get their feathers ruffled when that flow changes.
In Sheridan, it’s been several years since the Wyoming Department of Transportation installed “no left turn” signals on Main Street, and WYDOT Public Relations Specialist Ronda Holwell said most residents are familiar with the three peak times the signals are lit and plan ahead accordingly.
Typically the “no left turn” signals are lit from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m., noon to 1 p.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m.
However, in recent weeks, the signals at Loucks Street and Brundage Street have been lit from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., a change that has left a few people scratching their heads.
The change in the signal timing was made at the request of the city, Holwell said. It was done to prevent traffic congestion around the construction site at the WYO Theater.
City Clerk Scott Badley said the change was specifically requested while a 190-foot Link Belt crane was in use over the last month to erect steel in the space next to the WYO Theater. Now that the crane is gone, Badley said, the city will request the “no left turn” signals at Loucks and Brundage streets to return to normal peak hour operation.
The reason WYDOT installed the “no left turn” signals in the first place was to uphold its mission to provide a safe, high quality and efficient transportation system, Holwell said.
“If we don’t have them, the center two lanes virtually become turn lanes, and it cuts the flow of traffic,” Holwell said. “The outside lane is turning right, the inside lane is turning left, and everyone else who is just trying to get down the street is stuck.”
Holwell said she understands that downtown businesses would prefer drivers to pass down Main Street slowly so they have time to look at store windows, and that is why WYDOT only lights the “no left turn” signals during peak traffic hours.
“Main Street is the only through corridor from Coffeen Avenue to the north interchange that goes the entire way. The signals really help us get the flow of traffic down the corridor during those peak times,” Holwell said.
The “no left turn” signals have also helped curb some rear-end collisions that were occurring on Main Street.
“Anytime someone stops in a corridor, rear-end accidents are inevitable,” Holwell said.
Compliance with the “no left turn” signals seems to be fairly good, Holwell said, though she has seen drivers make a quick left turn if no one is approaching in the oncoming lane.