Median fading into history?

The results of a small poll taken at last Thursday’s community meeting were perhaps surprising: of 26 people who commented on whether to leave the median strip in place on Main Street in Lovell, 22 said to leave it off.

Granted, it was a tiny sample of Lovell citizens – those who decided to attend the public meeting and sit down and write their thoughts on a piece of paper, but it is somewhat revealing – and eyebrow-raising. Past efforts to remove the median were met with a strong public outcry against the idea.

The median strip will come out when the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation engages in a Main Street resurfacing project and the Town of Lovell joins in with the final phase of the water and sewer infrastructure project. The median rests on the sewer main, so it obviously has to come out. The question is, should it be replaced?

Engineer Frank Page estimates that it would cost an extra $200,000 on top of the project expenses to restore the median strip. Would that be money well spent?

Some people call the median “an island of safety,” but really that’s a false notion. The six-inch rise of the median won’t protect you if a truck comes at you while you’re jaywalking. And when the snow flies, the mound of snow that piles up in the middle of the street (since it can’t be easily removed) creates a hazard. We’ve seen people struggling to climb over it during the winter. That’s no island of safety. It’s amazing that more people aren’t injured after slipping during a crossing.

It would be a shame to lose the flowers, which have enhanced Main and given our community a distinctive flavor. But we believe the flowers can be maintained in some fashion, adding more to the sidewalks and/or even providing for them in the middle of the street.

If nothing else, the easternmost median has to go. The “driveway-based” businesses at that end of town would benefit from the removal of the median, with flow into and out of the businesses greatly enhanced. We’ve seen vehicles drive east on Main, pause at Oregon, then slide into the westbound lanes and drive against traffic to get to Minchow’s Food Court.

With the median gone, snow removal and street cleaning would be much easier. The median simply gets in the way. And while the Dept. of Transportation is currently doing a better job keeping the median painted, there are times when, as the paint layers pile up over the years, it begins flaking off and the median looks rather shabby.

If you don’t agree with those who attended Thursday’s meeting, let the council know, but those who took the time to express their opinion Thursday may well carry the day, and we agree. Once the median’s gone, let’s keep it that way.

–David Peck