Important traffic management meetings Monday in Lovell

Members of the Lovell downtown business community and Main Street residents are encouraged to attend one of two information meetings next week regarding next summer’s highway improvement project in downtown Lovell.

12-27-12DSC_7818-DowntownThe “information-sharing sessions” will be held Monday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Lovell Community Center on the west edge of town.

“This project will impact the Lovell business district,” Lovell Town Council member Brian Dickson said. “We’re inviting business owners and citizens to attend one of these sessions to share their thoughts on the 2014 project. We want business owners and citizens to understand the impacts of this project, and we’d like to take input from business owners and citizens. We’re looking for good ideas.”

Those attending the meeting will have the opportunity to review a description of the project and the proposed traffic management plan, which could involve diverting traffic while work is being conducted on portions of Main Street.

“We’re hoping to get the word out to more people,” Dickson said of the afternoon and evening meetings. “We’re working with the chamber of commerce, but we realize not every business owner is a member of the chamber. I’d like to say this project will have no impact on business people. I’d like to say it, but I can’t.”

Main Street residents are also invited, he said.

“We want them there because they will be impacted, too,” he said.

The 2014 project is a joint effort between the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation and the Town of Lovell. The town has planned for years to coordinate the final phase of the water and sewer infrastructure project with a WyDOT project to restore certain portions of Main Street that have worn over the years.

Dickson explained that Main Street’s concrete street was poured in panels, and WyDOT has planned to replace only certain panels that had worn over the years.

“But we’re going to tear up a bunch of it,” Dickson said, referring to the water and sewer project. “WyDOT is restoring the surface that may not be impacted by our project as well as areas that that are impacted by the water and sewer project.”

Dickson said the WyDOT project also includes handicap access ramps on all of the intersections previously not converted on Main Street.

The plan

Dickson said WyDOT was hoping to keep a driving lane open at all times during the project, but added, “There’s no way due to the amount of earth being moved. There isn’t room to store it and keep a driving lane open. So we’re looking at a diversion.”

Dickson said traffic must be re-routed around blocks being worked on, either with a detour around the project on, perhaps, Lane 12 or by diverting traffic around the work area but keeping vehicles moving through town.

“One of the reasons I’m excited about these meetings is that I want to hear new ideas,” he said. “There may be some we haven’t thought of.”

WyDOT Public Relations Specialist Cody Beers said at an earlier meeting that he doesn’t like detours because they take traffic totally away from the business district, and Dickson said a detour around Lovell would be problematic because drivers coming from the east on U.S. 14A would have to travel south quite a way on U.S. 310 before reaching Lane 12 for a detour.

One good thing Dickson said he has learned is that much of East Main is wide enough so that traffic won’t have to be diverted during the portion of the project from the east end of town to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Once the street narrows west of Pennsylvania, traffic will have to be diverted, he said, noting that two blocks will be totally closed at a time, but four blocks will be impacted. The two closed blocks will be inaccessible to automobile traffic, while one block on either end of the closed blocks will have limited access – access for local traffic only but not as a through street.

Sidewalks will always remain open except during actual digging for service lines. A walking surface with handrails will be provided by the contractor to cover the open trench.

Sugar campaign

Dickson noted that since the project must start at the east end of down due to the flow of the sewer lines, there were fears that the project would reach the intersection of Great Western and Main next to the sugar factory just as the sugar beet harvest and the 2014-15 campaign begins in late September or early October.

But engineers realized that there is no sewer line at that intersection, just a water line, which can be laid any time, plus an irrigation waste water ditch that crosses under Main at that point and needs to be replaced. Thus, the contract will call for the water line and irrigation ditch work to be done in the spring before the field to the south of the factory is irrigated.

“The sugar company was very pleased that the intersection will not be torn up during the beet harvest,” Dickson said.

The meetings will be led by WyDOT and attended by Beers, District Construction Engineer Keith Compton and Resident Engineer Ben Steed. Also attending will be officials from the Town of Lovell and DOWL HKM Engineering.

Dickson said people can attend either the 1 p.m. meeting or the 6 p.m. meeting.

“We certainly have no objection if people want to go to both, but the same information will be covered at both meetings,” he said.

By David Peck