Transportation Master Plan data released
PINEDALE – Pine Street has served as Pinedale’s central artery for more than a century. Many community businesses and services still reside along the thoroughfare.
Over the decades, Pine Street developed from a humble dirt street into a four-lane portion of Highway 191 linking the busy Interstate 80 corridor to world-famous tourist destinations like the Tetons and Yellowstone.
Pine Street’s dual purpose as the major national highway and focal point for businesses and residents poses a challenge for town planners.
The Town of Pinedale launched a Transportation Master Plan to study traffic conditions across the community and use data to identify projects that will improve connectivity, safety and mobility.
The first phase in the Transportation Master Plan involved collecting and analyzing data. Engineers from Jorgensen & Associates in Pinedale and Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig presented these findings to the town council at its Dec. 12 meeting.
Jorgensen conducted traffic studies and gathered input from public workshops it hosted with the town in August. The firm also relied on statistics from the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and a private transportation research company called StreetLight Data.
Hayley Ruland, a project engineer at Jorgensen, outlined several areas of concern – connectivity, speeding, making left turns on Pine Street, pedestrian safety and pathway connectivity.
Engineers divided Pinedale into four geographic quadrants separated by Pine Creek (north to south) and Pine Street (east to west).
Using information from StreetLight Data, Jorgensen analyzed the number of trips made between each quadrant to explore connectivity in the community, Ruland explained.
Figures showed most traffic flowing from the quadrants south of Pine Street to the northeast quadrant, where many businesses and services are located, Ruland said. Traffic was equally heavy from the northwest quadrant to the northeast quadrant.
WYDOT tallied a daily average of between 3,000 and 5,000 vehicles on Pine Street at the western town limit of Pinedale. The figure rose to approximately 10,000 vehicles traversing Pine Street inside city limits.
The study demonstrated “more movement” in Pinedale’s “downtown core” and indicated that a significant portion of traffic on Pine Street consists of residents entering the thoroughfare from side streets rather than nonresidents passing through town, Ruland said.
According to StreetLight’s analysis in 2021, only 25 percent of average daily traffic on Pine Street in July was through traffic. The number dropped to 10 percent in March.
Based on data, Ruland emphasized that speeding cannot be entirely attributed to tourists and truck drivers.
Engineers relied on a speed study conducted by WYDOT in 2016. WYDOT tracked vehicle speeds at Pinedale town limits and in the downtown core area.
WYDOT observed 15 percent of vehicles traveling above 35 mph along Pine Street in the downtown core area. The study also showed 15 percent of drivers entering town limits on the west end of Pine Street moving faster than 45 miles per hour and 15 percent exiting town to the east pushing 49 mph.
The big turn
Turning left onto Pine Street from a side street can be an exercise in patience, especially during summer months.
The portion of Highway 191 that becomes Pine Street inside town limits is not a “free flow” highway, Ruland explained. Pine Street is bisected by 27 intersections, or “points of conflict” for traffic, she added.
Engineers rated certain intersections on Pine Street with letter grades assigned from an “A” (passing) to “F” (failing).
The intersection at Tyler Avenue and Pine Street received a “C” and “D” during peak hours of traffic, meaning drivers waited between 15 to 35 seconds to make the left turn into Pine Street.
Several intersections along Pine Street were close to receiving a “failing” grade with wait times approaching or exceeding 50 seconds, Ruland said.
In addition to traffic, sight distance plays a role in making some intersections difficult to navigate. Obstructions like parked cars and buildings along Pine Street can force drivers to inch forward in order to see oncoming traffic, Ruland remarked. The drivers then block crosswalks, making side streets less safe for pedestrians, she said.
Pedestrians and bicycles
Matthew Downey, an engineer at Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig, discussed pedestrian and bicycle use in town limits
Downey and his colleagues counted the number of daily pathway users at different locations in Pinedale during the month of October. Harmony Bridge and Tranquility Bridge received the highest traffic from cyclists and pedestrians, with the pathway running south of town along Highway 191 and the ballfields getting the least amount of users.
Engineers analyzed the pedestrian crossings along Pine Street at Tyler Avenue and Lake Avenue. The crossing at Tyler Avenue experienced significantly higher volumes than the crossing at Lake Avenue, Downey said. The numbers fluctuated by season, he added.
According to the study, 716 people crossed Tyler and Pine over one week in July. The figure decreased to 243 in February. At Lake Avenue, 373 people used the crossing in July and 65 in February.
Downey stressed that the study only counted instances where people activated the street-crossing lights. The actual number of pedestrians using the crossings may be as high as “the thousands,” he said.
Other Pine Street crosswalks of concern were at the American Legion Park and between Ridley’s and Bridger Street, Downey added.
The next step in the Transportation Master Plan is to develop transportation alternatives, recommendations and solutions based on the data, Ruland told the board. Public input is crucial in developing plans to improve transportation and safety, Ruland added.
A copy of the Transportation Master Plan powerpoint presented by Ruland and Downey to the town council is posted on the Town of Pinedale’s website at www.townofpinedale.us/pinedalemobility.