SHERIDAN — Sheridan city staff assigned costs for Main Street reconfiguration plans for tests to take place in the near future. Sheridan, city staff said, is a pioneer in street reconfiguration testing efforts.
Sheridan City Public Works Director Lane Thompson and Community Development Director Brian Craig presented potential ways to test lane reconfiguration on Main Street with approval from the mayor, city council and Wyoming Department of Transportation. Craig said upon initial feedback, 62 of the 65 business owners surveyed said they were in favor of the city conducting temporary lane reconfiguration tests, and only 18 of those 65 said their business or building could potentially benefit from expanded sidewalk space.
Because of that, two different plans were discussed, both of which include increasing lane and street parking width and not increasing sidewalk width. Option one, the cheaper option, would add temporary paint to cover existing road striping and add new lane striping for $75,000. The second option would use colored adhesive tape to cover the existing stripes and add new temporary lane stripes for $136,000.
The changes would reduce Main Street lanes to one northbound and one southbound lane with a center turning lane from Dow Street to Works Street. The decrease from four lanes to three will increase traveling lanes to 12 feet wide, the center turning lane to span 11 feet and leave 8 feet, 5 inches for street parking on both sides of the street.
Craig said in an April council meeting that the test would possibly be conducted for three to four weeks in August. Side travel streets, like Broadway and Brooks streets, would be monitored for increased traffic flow in comparison to the 20 plus years of travel data WYDOT has for the area.
To operate the test, the city of Sheridan must apply for a special event permit with WYDOT, which will have contingency plans to associate with side street businesses and the impact, as well as noting impacts on streets like Fifth Street and Sheridan Avenue.
The Downtown Sheridan Association spoke in favor of the test, and DSA member and business owner Tom Craft also spoke in favor of a more user-friendly downtown.
“I feel the more user-friendly it is, then there is where our businesses will have the best chance to not just survive but flourish,” Craft said. “If we truly are going to have WYDOT tear up Main Street and redo that, giving us the chance to also fix the infrastructure and everything else, (the testing) is a great opportunity to reprogram the public.”
Craft said Main Street right now is used for people to move from Point A to Point B, which is less user friendly and may hurt business.
“(Downtown) is a destination. I feel it’s a destination. I think it can be a stronger destination, but to make it a stronger destination, it needs to be a more user-friendly downtown, whether it’s parking, whether it’s being a pedestrian and feeling safer walking,” Craft said. “It doesn’t lend itself necessarily to a pedestrian-friendly, user-friendly downtown.”
Craig said reconfigurations of Main Streets are being considered in other cities, but Sheridan is one of the first around to implement a test before completing construction on Main Streets.
“Really there’s not a lot of people that are ahead of the game in exploring these tests,” Craig said. “They’re either deciding not to pursue it or they’re making wholesale changes permanently, so exploring the test has been a bit of a challenge, but our staff has been working hard on that.”