Seeing Red, Less; Casper Traffic Signals Get A Timing Makeover
The changes maybe subtle, but you may notice your commute will be a bit smoother after a city-wide adjustment of traffic signals this week.
"We're going to spend the most time on Second (Street), but what I always tell everyone is signals have to turn red at some point," surface transportation engineer Mike Bittner said Tuesday after speaking to Casper City Council during a work session.
"It would be impossible for you to go from one side of Second to the other side, and have another guy on the other side to do the same thing -- and to get all greens," Bittner said.
The city hired Bittner's firm, the Bismarck, N.D.-based KLJ Engineering, with an office in Casper, in March 2015 to study traffic patterns, traffic light timing, and collect other data about how we drive around town.
The city initially wanted KLJ to look at traffic patterns on Second Street, but expanded the project to a signal timing study of 55 intersections, according to the agenda for the city council work session.
Bittner told the council he found some traffic flowed well on some streets, other traffic gummed up at certain intersections, and a lot of motorists drive 40 mph in East Second Street's 30 mph zone.
Timing isn't an easy thing to calibrate because someone will need to stop for someone else to go, he said. "So what we do is we always try to balance those delays and how many times you stop. Really the goal is to not make you stop multiple times."
Some of the longer term changes would involve removing some traffic signals, because unnecessary signals can increase crashes, he said. Some of those signals are downtown and near Casper College.
Bittner also recommends doing away with the flashing yellow lights that begin at midnight on some streets.
Traffic flows could be improved with some reconstruction at Country Club Road at 12th Street, and Walsh Drive and Second Street.
Some aggravating intersections, he said, would need a lot of study and reconfigurations for better traffic flow: Center and Fifth streets and Collins Drive; CY Avenue, 12th and Spruce streets; CY Avenue, 13th and Walnut streets; and Fifth and McKinley streets.
However, some intersections and traffic signals are beyond city control, Bittner said.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation owns and operates the signals at Second Street and Wyoming Boulevard, other intersections along Wyoming Boulevard, and even First and Center streets downtown, he said.
The project cost just under $100,000, and was paid for by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and WYDOT.
But the work will, in effect, save residents $10.4 million a year in terms of time saved commuting, fuel costs, fewer accidents and less pollution, Bittner said.
And that doesn't count the stress reduction of driver-aggression-caused headaches.