PROPS & DISSES

By on April 23, 2015

PROPSFistbumpCircular logic at the ‘Y’

A roundabout might work at the “Y.” The idea is not without some concerns, though.

The challenge at the intersection of Broadway and Highway 22 is handling an enormous amount of traffic getting on and off Highway 22 while still allowing for speedy and efficient through traffic east-to-west on Broadway. It also needs to allow for the minority motorist movement attempting to access Highway 22 from Buffalo Way.

For instance, an attempted left onto Highway 22 from eastbound Broadway is tortuous during rush hour. The light duration is too short. Granted, it’s not as short as the green allowing Buffalo Way motorists the opportunity to cross Broadway. In winter, there is barely enough time for the first two-wheel car to spin its tires trying to get started out of the dip and get across four lanes by the time the light changes.

Unscrupulous eastbound Broadway drivers attempting to make a left onto 22 have utilized two workarounds. Most have opted for the Gables/Cuttys cutoff (Is that how Cuttys got its name?). This creates a dangerous left out of a partially obstructed parking lot, not to mention the uncivil act of using a motel/bar parking area as a roadway. The alternative is making a quick right onto Buffalo Way and pulling an immediate U-turn into the usually short queue there, but then again you are stuck with a traffic light shorter than an inner city cop’s “freeze”-to-trigger-pull fuse.

Roundabouts are permanent traffic devices. They are being used even when traffic is light. There is no way to simply initiate a flashing red-yellow sequence after midnight or adjust the stoplight duration in different seasons. It’s always there, slowing things down.

The big question is whether a roundabout at the “Y” would cause westbound Broadway motorists and travelers arriving to town from Highway 22 to start backing up. “It can’t be worse than 5:15 p.m. on a July afternoon,” you might say. Motorists on Broadway have seen bumper-to-bumper conditions as far back as Wendy’s. But a roundabout would cause drivers to slow before entering to the point of also backing things up behind them. And this would occur all the time, not just in the five o’clock hour.

It would have to be a two-lane roundabout, which causes more confusion and accidents than the simple one-laner at Hoback Junction. But accidents are a fairly common occurrence at the “Y” anyway, and a low-speed fender bender in a traffic circle would be preferable to inconsiderate speeders trying to beat the light at all costs. Slowing Broadway traffic from 45 mph (which is the regularly practiced speed) to something more like 20 to 25 when entering the “Y” intersection is probably a safer option.

Roundabout guru Michael Wallwork addressed county commissioners and the general public Tuesday – too late to make this edition of PJH.

Busy intersection at the ‘Y.’

Busy intersection at the ‘Y.’

Urban infill: A diamond in the rough

The weighty decision before the town council this week was whether the ballpark at Snow King should have a dirt or grass infield — nevermind the bigger discussion at the county level of where new softball and Little League fields should be built and for what cost.

Ball players underutilize the field at Snow King. Parks and Rec softball leagues were booted from there years ago for the inevitable property destruction precipitated by placing parking just beyond a short homerun fence. Kickballers and other baseballers continue to use the park but not very often. Ditto Mateosky at the fairgrounds. The newly improved Powderhorn ballpark gets some decent use.

But of all the ball fields available in town, Snow King’s has become a forgotten diamond. Replacing the dirt infield with grass would be better for the multiuse aspect of the space, say Center Management Inc. and JacksonHoleLive representatives, who are concerned mainly with providing concerts that don’t turn into a Woodstock mudfest.

As a lifelong ball player, grass infields are probably preferable if maintained properly. From the Parks and Rec perspective, grass is much easier to maintain than dirt. Proper baseball infields should contain a much higher mix of heavy clay than Teton County ball fields do. Ours are mainly sand. Sand is useful for slowing down ground balls and runners moving from bases. But neither surface guarantees a true hop if they are not meticulously groomed and manicured.

So, bottom line, Snow King’s field does not need to be dirt and should not be. Dirt still needs to be used at each base and at home plate (for sliding) and on the pitcher’s mound. Base paths do not need to be dirt, either, honestly.  But why stop there? How often is the field used for kickball, baseball or softball? How often is it used as open space for concertgoers and Frisbee players? The bigger question is where can a multi-field park be built and when? The two existing softball fields at the Cow Pastures are on borrowed time. The school district will be taking over that land soon. The only downside of simply getting rid of the ball field at Snow King is it would make it all that more tempting to put something in there. The town (along with restless private enterprisers) has a history of seeing an open field of grass as underutilized.

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About Jake Nichols

Jake is a work in progress.

One Comment

  1. anonyholic II

    April 23, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Roundabout at the ‘Y’: Ain’t gonna happen. There just is not enough room to effectively transit all the traffic that has to go through there. Ask WYDOT. Even if all the private ground surrounding the intersection is taken for the construction,it’s not enough, according to resident engineers. Three lanes have to approach the roundabout from all four directions,with two lanes going around the circle, along with the egress lane on the outside. Confusion will reign, as drivers jockey for position seeking the faster moving lane, only to realize at the last minute they’re in roundabout in the wrong lane for their intended peel-off. Sudden lane change and road rage may ensue. And this doesn’t even take into account he lack of room for semi-rigs and the number of them that would be negotiating the roundabout simultaneously. While a good solution for non-stop traffic at Hoback Junction, we already know that roundabout is too small and semis are up and over the curb going through. Imagine what might happen in a multi-lane set-up with cars and lane-jumping behemoths alongside. Roundabout proponents like to trumpet the popularity and safety of these things, but, really? Jake, check with WYDOT about these issues, then contact authorities in he Idaho Falls area about the accident statistics public sentiment. I’ve heard things there are not all that positive, despite the rosy picture painted by fans.

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