Traffic & Transit
I believe that we live in a community where people are starving for the opportunity to be a part of the solution. If we are to survive the 21st century, I believe that government must play a crucial role in providing that access.
Opportunities for change begin with our current public transit system. By providing convenient START bus options, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce congestion, and support our workforce and businesses. Below are four ways we bring about transit change:
- Generate frequent and efficient services on current START bus lines.
- Create new routes to areas south of Jackson and possibly the airport.
- Increase commuter services dramatically.
- Ensure revenue to support the necessary route increases.
Additionally, we must develop a smart road network that provides redundancy, efficiency, and decreased trip times for carpoolers and bus riders.
How, you may ask, can we do these things? Lets Dive Deeper;
Transit Deep Dive
Two summers ago, on a rare rush hour commute to the West Bank, I was disgusted by my reality. With thoughts of melting Teton glaciers taunting me, I sat in my vehicle, crawling toward my destination, lamenting the tragedy in which I was playing a part.
If I’m elected as your next County Commissioner, I will seek to offer meaningful transit alternatives for our residents and visitors alike. Like housing, no single tool will solve our transportation issues, but with leadership dedicated to developing real transit solutions, I envision a Community with reduced congestion, pollution, and wildlife collisions.
Any real solution to our transit issues begins with START. Our current routing and scheduling do not function effectively for a majority of our workforce. As a member of the START Board, I continue to work with staff and consultants to develop route plans and schedules which are built around the needs of workers.
Currently, 8000 commuters a day drive up the canyon or over the pass. We only capture 300 of them in our buses. Since my first START Board meeting, in order to increase commuting ridership, I have advocated for the deployment of employer-funded passes, which are now available for this winter. This new mechanism for purchasing passes should generate meaningful behavior shifts, as commuters who work at participating businesses and organizations will now have free access to the buses. Through building relationships with local employers, we can grow our ridership and service dramatically, while also bringing in significant revenue.
The START Board is also considering the deployment of messaging opportunities on our bus wraps and beyond. If the Town will allow it, each bus could generate enough revenue to practically fund its entire local share. If elected, I will bring this same creativity, thoughtfulness, and commitment to solutions for all issues.
Little in Teton County creates as much neighborly disagreement as the suggestion to add a new road or lane. Currently, a number of opportunities exist in to increase the efficiency and redundancy of our road network in the valley.
The purpose of a Tribal Trails Connector is to provide redundancy of access for emergency vehicles and to reduce congestion at the Y-intersection and on WY22. The construction of this road is long overdue, and it is time for our elected leaders to make a decision. There is no point in spending more critical funds on planning, as folks on either side will be frustrated no matter what we decide.
Despite the opposition from some homeowners, I believe that the Tribal Trails Connector should be built with a 25 MPH speed restriction.
First, this ½ mile of road will generate redundancy that is important for the safety of any community. Remember when Suburban Propane caught fire? An entire generation of our youth were at risk that day. Had Tribal Trails existed then, folks would have had access to that critical escape valve.
Second, I support the reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) that will result from the completion of the connector. Collectively, locals will save several thousands of vehicle miles traveled each day as we move between the schools and residences of West Jackson and the West Bank and beyond.
The WY22 corridor from the Y-intersection at Albertsons to the WY390 intersection just across the Snake River is the most congested piece of highway in the state. The intersection with WY390 is currently under review and will be rebuilt along with the Snake River bridge in the next couple of years. Increasing capacity at the intersection will help traffic flow, but the fact remains that the entire corridor represents a choke point for traffic flowing across our valley.
I support the expansion of this stretch of highway by one restricted lane in each direction. I will work with our state legislators in Cheyenne to ensure access to HOV/BRT (High Occupancy Vehicle/Bus Rapid Transit) restrictions. Additionally, I will work with all partners to help deploy appropriate wildlife crossings and fencing along this route.
The idea of a roadway to connect Teton Village to the Airport has been circulating for years. While it would provide direct access between these two important destinations, I believe that we remain years away from any real opportunity to develop this connector, and we may find that the obstacles are too great to ever bring this roadway to fruition. I would support very preliminary explorations with landowners as well as environmental assessments along the proposed path of this roadway.
With robust support from partners and the community, our Pathways system has grown magnificently over the past decade. What remains is to connect all the routes within the network. I will work with all partners towards a comprehensive multimodal network, with particular emphasis on deploying year round bike parking around critical bus stops.
There is a wide range of opinions when it comes to how to deal with traffic in Teton County. Some in our community have chosen to pretend that our traffic problems will go away if we just continue to ignore them. Others in our community believe that we can simply pave our way out of our traffic problems. I fall in neither camp, instead my hopes lie in nuanced, practical, and moderate solutions.
If elected, I will work with zeal, passion, and doggedness toward better solutions for traffic in Teton County. With over 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions derived from ground transportation, I will act with urgency and in collaboration with important partners to drive our community towards a more sustainable reality. For a deeper dive into greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on climate change, please click HERE.