The intersection of 22nd and Reynolds streets will be much easier to navigate by cars, bikes and crosswalks once the city updates it next summer.
Initial designs for the new intersection were presented during a public meeting Nov. 20 and include a traffic light, left turn only lane, bike lanes and red-dyed crosswalks.
Located right next to Laramie Middle School and Laramie Fire Station No. 2, the intersection has been notorious for long wait times, especially for those traveling north or south on 22nd Street or for pedestrians trying to cross Reynolds to get to school.
City engineer Eric Jaap told the Laramie Boomerang on Monday he’s heard concerns from residents about the intersection periodically since he started working with the city.
“We were waiting for the warrants to be triggered on it, and we finally got a study that triggered those warrants,” he said.
The intersection is being designed by professional services company DOWL, who also completed the intersection of Boulder Drive and Beech Street near Laramie High School.
The consultant was invited onto the project in part because intersections can be complex to design, as each traffic signal light must be individually wired to accommodate the specific intersection’s traffic counts, timing and the overall intersection design.
The goal of any intersection, City Civil Engineer Eric Milliken said, is to balance safety with operations. Many of the intersection upgrades aim to help with both, including the turning lane.
“By separating the left-turning vehicles from the through vehicles, you reduce the risk for rear-end crashes,” he said. “Also, you allow the through vehicles to go through the intersection without being impeded by someone waiting to turn left.”
For those who don’t drive, bike lanes will provide easy access both to the middle school as well as the Cirrus Sky Trail.
The crosswalks will be made of red-dyed concrete, which Milliken said is “a great way to increase pedestrian visibility, which is definitely a key factor for the design of this intersection with it being right next to a school.”
The dyed concrete also keeps maintenance costs down for the Streets Division, Jaap said.
To accommodate the various upgrades, one thing has to give: street parking.
The city and DOWL presented two design options to the public during the Nov. 20 meeting. One design was considered an ideal engineering option, while another option “gives back some more parking and is still a safe engineering design we are comfortable with,” Milliken said.
“We did our best to maintain as much parking as possible,” he added. “Not everybody will be able to keep their parking most likely, which is unfortunate, but it’s part of the design of the intersection.”
Both Jaap and Milliken said they haven’t done an official count at how many spaces would be taken away.
A lot of the curb on one side of Reynolds Street is already painted yellow to accommodate fire trucks leaving the station.
Additionally, some of the removed parking will improve site distances for buses leaving the school, as well as pedestrian safety for students commuting back and forth.
At the Nov. 20 public meeting, some nearby residents expressed frustration with the removal of parking outside their homes, while others were excited to not have to peer around parked cars to see oncoming traffic when they’re backing out of their driveways.
While some negative comments, especially about parking, are to be expected, Jaap said throughout the public comment period there was a lot of feedback about “how beneficial it will be for that area, for the school, for the residents — just overall very positive.”
Construction is expected to start next summer, with the goal of completing the intersection before the next school year starts in fall 2020.
“The original schedule for the project was to have the signal in by November (2019) but then we decided to move it to this summer because we didn’t want to interrupt school as badly,” Milliken said. “We decided to take our time with the design and public input.”