Main Street Lane Configuration Test

1. Why is a change happening? Why do a test? Why now?

The City of Sheridan, in anticipation of WYDOT’s 2023 planned resurfacing of Main Street from Burkitt to Dow, applied for and received a technical assistance grant to explore streetscape improvement options. Along with street and utility improvements, an opportunity exists to create enhancements to the pedestrian, retail, and recreation environment in downtown. The Downtown Sheridan Streetscape Action Plan is the product of a multi-day workshop, several focus group discussions, and other feedback. The plan lists ideas and options that should be further evaluated and tested by the community to determine what, if any, proposals should be forwarded to WYDOT as they begin their final engineering designs and plans. The Action plan is located on the project website at https://www.sheridanmainstreet.com. One recommendation from this plan is to alter the lane configuration from 4 lanes to 3 lanes. The test will help determine if this configuration will meet the safety and mobility standards required by WYDOT for state highways. The test needs to occur this year in order to yield results in time to be considered with the final designs. Additionally, the test should occur during the summer months to accurately reflect peak season use, but it was scheduled so as not to disrupt the WYO Rodeo activities.

2. Why is the test being done now if the construction isn’t happening until 2023?

WYDOT’s design process encompasses several years in advance of a construction project. In order to get any proposed changes into the final design, decisions need to be made years in advance. The time frame of the test was chosen because it is after Sheridan WYO Rodeo week, but still in the height of tourist season.

3. Why wasn’t the test in place during the Sheridan WYO Rodeo week, when traffic volumes are high?

Traffic volumes during the week of Sheridan WYO Rodeo cause high levels of congestion and delay in downtown Sheridan, even with the current lane configuration. Completing the test during this week would not allow proper analysis of how the new lane configuration will perform for the remaining 51 weeks of the year. It is a common practice to design traffic control devices for normal conditions, or the traffic level experienced by most people on most days. It is not feasible or practical to design for short duration special events.

4. What exactly is going to be changed?

Main Street is currently configured as a 4-lane road with on-street parking. The travel lanes are 11’ wide and parking is 7.5’ wide. There are two travel lanes in both the north and south directions and no designated turn lanes at intersections. The proposed change will have one driving lane in each direction with a center two-way left turn lane on Main Street with 12’ driving lanes, 8’ parallel parking, and a 4’ buffer zone between the parked cars and the lane of travel.

5. Will there be more or less parking?

The parking is going to stay the same. Parking is critical to the economic success and vitality of downtown. The width of the parking spots will be wider to allow people to get out of their cars and feel safer. Currently the parallel parking spots are only 7.5’ wide and the new parallel parking spots are going to be 8’ wide with a 4’ buffer zone between the edge of parking and the lane of travel.

6. Will the parking be diagonal or remain parallel parking?

The parking is going to remain parallel parking. Per state statute, Sheridan’s Main Street does not meet the requirements to allow for diagonal parking.

7. What is the benefit of a 3 lane vs. 4 lanes?

The new layout is removing one lane. There is going to be 2 (two) lanes of travel and 1 (one) center turn lane. The benefit of a 3-lane configuration versus a 4-lane configuration is the safety of people and the possibility it may attract more activity to the downtown area, which would benefit businesses and community vibrancy. A center two-way left-turn lane will  be implemented allowing left turns down Main Street that do not impede the flow of traffic.

8. Is this change permanent? 

The change is only a test and is to last 4 (four) weeks. Traffic counts and traffic studies will be conducted during the test to determine if a permanent change will be made in the future. The City and WYDOT will make a final decision later this fall.

9. How will the turning lane work?

Currently there is no left turn on Main Street during peak traffic times during the weekdays. This change will create a center lane serving as a left turn lane, meaning that a left turn can be made while yielding to oncoming traffic at any time the light is green. The no left-turn arrows that are in use during the weekdays will not be on or used for the duration of the test. A left turn can be made from the center two-way left-turn lane allowing the flow of traffic to be unimpeded.

10. How is this going to help the flow of traffic?

The purpose of the test is to determine if the proposed lane configuration can be successful or not; the pace of traffic on Main and nearby streets, the ease of parking, and the comfort of drivers and pedestrian will all be indicators of success or failure of the test. The purpose of the test is to encourage more visits, shopping, and activity in the downtown, it is not necessarily intended to address the speed of through traffic.

11. What about the side streets? Won’t they also be more congested?

The City will also be doing traffic counts and studies on the side streets and surrounding area during the test.

12. What is the purpose of the 4′ buffer zone?

The purpose of the 4’ buffer zone is the ability to have flexible space that can be used in future considerations. The cost of moving the curb is too costly for the purpose of this test and future considerations.

13. Are business owners on Main Street supportive of this test?

62 out of 65 Main Street business owners are supportive of the test.

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