Rant: Intersections and Roads That Chap Our Hides — Jon’s Top Five
Even though WYDOT is always whining for more money, let's admit it: we've got pretty good roads in Cheyenne. The last time I was in Omaha, I passed through a few potholes that were so bad I had to lock my hubs and turn my headlights on. That said, there are always improvements to be made. And I'm going to share with you a few intersections that tick me off. With one exception, these are all roads most of us use at least a few times a month. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I missed the intersection or road that most tans your backside.
Go ahead and click on the link that is the title right above here. It takes you to a Google Map with overlaid satellite imagery of the Vandehei interchange at I-25. Look — we'll wait.
The glory! That satellite photo was taken before our wonderful city leaders decided they needed to go and foul a perfect piece of road. I don't recall there being big problems or long wait times on either side of the I-25 overpass. But they went and tore everything out to put in… roundabouts!?
But boy, does it affect those of us it does a lot. The short version of my story: the utility company decided to replace my gas line before they county began widening Ave. C from Fox Farm to E. College. While they were doing that, they smashed my driveway, knocked my fence catawompus and did a number on my sprinklers with their line augur. My landlord and I managed to right the fence, but it took a lot of yelling to get the sprinklers fixed. (It took a lot of work to get the utility company's contractor to admit that they were responsible for the damage in the first place.) And then they told us to bugger off when we wondered if they were going to fix the concrete drive. Oh, well.
And then the construction began. Or rather, the demolition. That was four months ago. Every morning I need to find a new way in to work, and every evening I need to find a new way home because the detours change more often than my underwear. (Daily — I swear!) They finally have gotten around to putting down some asphalt.
The project is supposed to be complete by October. I wonder which October they mean?
There is no reason for this intersection to be on this list, at first blush. The satellite imagery (linked above) and photo (click for a larger view) both confirm that the intersection isn't in bad shape, right? There are plenty of approach and turn lanes, good sight lines and the whole ball of wax. So what's the problem?
The signal timing.
The signals on Dell Range are timed, which works great for most of the heavily trafficked portion of the road, west of College Drive. Except for Converse.
It doesn't matter which direction you're coming from. North or south, and you're probably going to hit a red light. East or west, and you're either going to hit a red light here… or at the next intersection (Walmart to the west and Prairie View east). And because of traffic patterns, it's going to be a long wait. North and southbound traffic need their own protected left turns, so everybody waits. Living where I do, it's the best way for me to get to Dell Range. But, by gawd, it's a pain in the neck.
It's hard to tell from the satellite image, and my photo doesn't do a great job either, but there is a significant elevation change on Central Ave./North Greely Highway/I-180/US. Hwy. 85/that road as it passes under I-80. (Quick trivia: I-180, or Central Ave. from Lincolnway to I-80, is the only Interstate with stoplights and at-grade intersections.)
That elevation change, along with a few other safety factors, get the intersection on this list at No. 2.
First, the elevation change causes several safety issues. Traffic on … I'm just going to call it I-180 … traffic on I-180 is whizzing along at 40mph or so. Northbound traffic will come over the crest of the hill, and if there's been an accident, or if a tractor-trailer is sticking out of the turn lane to get on I-80 West, there just isn't much time to clamp the stoppers. In the winter, those hilly stretches of road are also known to get slick, which precludes stopping. (Or starting, if you're southbound.)
Additionally, there are no cross walks, pedestrian signals or sidewalks. And there are a lot of folks who have to walk there. It isn't a trivial detour on shoeleather to walk east to Morrie Ave. or west to Waltershield. The city, or WYDOT, or whoever is responsible for that stretch of road should put in curb cuts (I see a lot of handicapped folks in chairs making this trip) and sidewalks with signals to cross. Instead of, you know, blowing all that cash on the Vandehei roundabout thing for beautification.
We wouldn't be talking about Cheyenne's roads if we didn't talk about the Charlie Foxtrot that is the intersection of Pershing Blvd, Converse Ave. and 19th St. And it wouldn't be a list of bad Cheyenne roads and intersections if this one weren't at the top of it.
Three quarters of ways through this intersection involve two stop lights. And because the intersection is so poorly thought out, if you're not paying attention you might miss your turn lane, which means you're going to go through three signals to get through this wreck. Even more than 20 years ago, what with the explosion of growth north on Dell Range, this was a busy intersection, and it's only getting worse. Like most three-ways, it's a proper hot mess. Get into a turn lane too early, and you're going to be a quarter-mile away before you can get turned around. Or maybe you'll cause a wreck! Stranger things have happened.
But fear not, fellow citizens. Our intrepid city council has a solution to this Intersection from Hell.
They're calling it, a roundabout.