Lander's First Street partially opens to one-way trafficDec 28, 2017 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Wrier
North First Street has partially opened to one-way traffic during the remainder of the Lander Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center's construction.
The opening allows for traffic to enter North First Street from Main Street to access establishments like the Lander Bar and Bloedorn Lumber via First Street. However, with the one-way designation, traffic can only travel north on the street.
The section of street from Main Street to the alley behind the Lander Bar is only open to one lane as construction is still taking place on the visitor's center, which also does not allow for parking. The street opens up to two lanes at the current Lander Chamber of Commerce building and continues until Washakie Street.
North First Street was closed from Main Street to the alley behind the Lander Bar from mid-September until Dec. 15 to set the groundwork, sewer and water lines and also to provide safety for construction workers until the roof panels were set.
The street was opened to one-way traffic on Dec. 15 and will remain that way until construction is completed, which is estimated to be in April.
"Wyoming Department of Transportation and city traffic experts think it should be one-way permanently," said Assistant Mayor RaJean Strube Fossen of the plans for North First Street after the construction is completed. "The offset intersection at First and Main is one of the most dangerous ones in the city."
The city of Lander has attempted to change traffic patterns at the intersection to provide safety to pedestrians, especially with the growing number of Wyoming Catholic College students traveling on foot in the area. In the past, the city has made North First Street a "no left-turn" intersection for drivers traveling south on North First Street, while WYDOT changed lighting and crossing at the intersection of Highway 287 and 789.
"That has not worked to reduce the conflicts between motorist, cyclists and pedestrians," Strube Fossen said. "Many drivers have been ignoring the rule and getting ticketed."
However, before the one-way designation on North First Street becomes permanent, it will have to be fully designed by traffic experts to have official travel lanes, parking lanes and proper signage.
"A public notice and comment process will take place, and the council will have to approve of the change," Strube Fossen said. "The final decision will be made prior to the end of the chamber construction."
The one-way travel, however, does not allow for emergency personnel, such as Guardian EMS stationed on the corner of North First and Washakie streets, to use North First Street to access Main Street in the event of an emergency.
This was a concern of the Lander City Council at its Nov. 28 meeting when it was brought the attention of the council North First Street had been closed for about two and a half months without a set re-open date.
"EMS was notified and given a change to comment on the new detour, as were all the businesses and residents along the route and between Second, First, Main, Lincoln and Washakie (streets)," Strube Fossen said. "There has been very little negative feedback to date."
She said the United States Postal Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department Services, located at 170 North First Street, described the street being one-way as inconvenient for them.
"But, they will make comment after the detour has been used for a couple of weeks," Strube Fossen said.