- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Legislature has directed the University of Wyoming to explore the possibility of closing 15th Street on campus to motor vehicle traffic as a safety measure for pedestrian students.

UW would have to initiate consultations with the City of Laramie on the matter.

The section of 15th Street involved is between Willett Drive and Ivinson Avenue and is among the most heavily used roads on campus.

Speaker of the House Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, showed particular interest in seeing such an initiative move forward, said Chris Boswell, UW vice president of governmental and community affairs.

“The Speaker wanted to press forward with some further discussions, and this was the vehicle that was used to encourage those discussions,” Boswell told the Laramie Boomerang (http://bit.ly/2mG8AXw). “He’s been very interested in pedestrian safety in the area, especially between the dorms, fraternities and sororities, the College of Business and (Wyoming) Union area, and also the crossing at Willett (Drive).”

During a 2009 presentation about UW’s long-range planning, design firm MIG told an audience at the Wyoming Union that about 3,000-4,000 pedestrian crossings occur on 15th Street every day as students cross from the residence halls or Fraternity and Sorority Row. More recent information was not immediately available.

The budget bill that passed the Legislature this winter directs UW to deliver a report to the Joint Appropriations Committee no later than Nov. 1 on its findings. No funding is provided for the project.

“It’s an initial step,” Boswell said.

Laramie Mayor Andi Summerville and Boswell both said such a project would require collaboration between the city and UW. Representatives from UW and the Laramie City Council previously discussed the roadway during January 2016 meetings to address a reconstruction of Ivinson Avenue between Ninth and 15th streets.

Summerville said she expects city representatives will meet with UW, but wants to make sure community members concerns are a part of the discussions.

“It’s really going to be important to bring up all the significant challenges that are going to come with that from the community as a whole, including UW,” she said.

Without 15th Street open to traffic between Willet Drive and Grand Avenue, Summerville said motorists would be forced to divert as far west as Ninth Street and east to 22nd Street to travel north or south. Besides the convenience of motorists and the strain that could be put on other north-south roadways, she said public safety is a significant concern.

“How do you get fire trucks into that area if that’s no longer a street, or will you be able to allow for that kind of stuff?” Summerville asked. “Getting rid of 15th Street would have a major impact on city of Laramie traffic patterns.”

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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