Six Teams Attend Wyoming Community Mobility Institute
In mid-October, six Wyoming communities traveled to Lander to attend a unique training program offered by the Sonoran New Mobility West initiative. With support from the Wyoming-based LOR Foundation, the training was provided for free, however communities first had to apply for assistance, create local teams representing key stakeholders, and come prepared to develop action plans for priority transportation and main street projects.
The Sonoran staff led the training, and Wyoming Pathways Executive Director Tim Young assisted as a team facilitator. Nationally recognized experts Gary Toth with Project for Public Spaces and Jim Charlier with Charlier Associates assisted the teams, and lectured on best practices for community building, with terrific overviews of the latest trends in transportation and main street economic development. The speakers made the case that improving streets for people biking and walking is good community building with many benefits, economic, quality of life, and healthy places people like to live in.
The community teams included Casper, Laramie, Gillette, Sheridan, Lander, and Jackson. The community teams each had a mix of planners, engineers, local elected, school facilities staff, nonprofit leaders, and quite a few participants from WYDOT. The progress that was possible with this team approach to problem solving was remarkable. First it starts with making sure all the goals are identified – like creating streets as places that help achieve economic development goals, and how to address conflicts when state highways run through the heart of communities as they do in much of Wyoming.
WYDOT’s Local Government office helped with a presentation on opportunities for communities and WYDOT to partner on projects, and WYDOT District office and Local office staff were on the teams. This builds on similar training last spring, when over 80 WYDOT engineers attended a half day training on Complete Streets led by Gary Toth, an engineer with state DOT experience and now with Project for Public Spaces. WYDOT Chief Engineer Del McOmie supported the training, recognizing that these issues come up in nearly every community WYDOT works with. It was exciting to see that support continue with the strong WYDOT participation in the Lander training.
The teams developed a list of three projects, and then worked on Action Plans with a steps, roles, timelines and responsibilities identified. As quick examples of some of the exciting projects that may result around Wyoming –
– Laramie is working on the connection between downtown and the University of Wyoming campus, transforming Ivinson Ave to be a much safer complete street connection for bicycling and walking and to enhance the downtown.
– Sheridan is looking at options to right size main street and provide additional room for people and business along the bustling commercial hub for the city. Working in collaboration with WYDOT, since main street is also a state highway, the team is bring solid ideas home and a plan to work on it.
– The Jackson team worked on a big project for the reconstruction of North Cache Street, the busy northern gateway into Jackson. The plan includes street improvements, gateway enhancements, public art, and connecting to the Jackson-Jenny Lake Pathway.
– Gillette developed plans to expand their successful main street project, and to solve a busy street crossing for pedestrians and businesses.
– Lighter, quicker, cheaper; several of the teams found local project ideas based on training showing how some low cost improvements that can be done quickly and to help test out concepts for community buy in.
Wyoming Pathways congratulates all six communities on the progress made towards these and the other goals developed at the training.