KODI-KZMQ Newscast for Monday, March 20, 2017

The increasing numbers of traffic fatalities in the state have the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Highway Patrol looking for ways to catch the attention of drivers to encourage them to make safe choices.

WYDOT will display on its dynamic message signs throughout the state five different safety messages.

Some of the messages people will see include, “Check your seat belt! Check your speed!,” “Your family needs you! Slow Down! Buckle Up!,” and “18 deaths on Wyoming roads this year. Buckle Up!”

Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. David Wagener pointed out that in 2016, 34 people out of the 112 total fatalities were the result of impaired driving. Fifty-five out of those were the result of lack of seat belt use when seat belts were available.

Overall fatalities and fatal crashes have been decreasing since 2014. According to WYDOT’s Highway Safety Office, in 2014, there were 150 fatalities; there were 145 fatalities in 2015. And last year saw 112 fatalities.

So far this year, Wyoming has had 18 fatalities from 15 fatal crashes.

The City of Cody will have three new liquor licenses in its pocket thanks to a legislative decision made in this session.

Cody City Administrator Barry Cook says that rather than immediately handing the three new bar and grill licenses to existing local businesses, there is some advantage to holding on to the licenses to encourage economic development.

Currently the City has 20 retail liquor licenses and 3 bar and grill licenses in circulation, and is allowed an unlimited number of restaurant liquor licenses. Applicants for liquor licenses pay the City a fee of $1500, but then those licenses can be bought and sold for any amount, according to Cook. He says he’s seen them be sold for amounts as high as $100,000.

The new bar and grill licenses will be available on July 1st.

Drivers in Cody will be seeing surveyors out this spring in preparation for a future roadway rehabilitation project.

WYDOT is upgrading the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements at the street corners on each city block. WYDOT Photos and Surveys workers from Cheyenne will be on site as early as this week, and possibly through early April, to survey existing street corners and gather preliminary data so plans can be developed for the project.

WYDOT Resident Engineer Todd Frost of Cody says the rehabilitation will consist of concrete slab replacement, grinding concrete, resealing concrete joints, and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades on the concrete portion of the highway from 10th Street to Stampede Avenue.

The project is tentatively scheduled for the year 2020.

Since the roadway was originally reconstructed in 1985, Frost says there has been minimal maintenance, so the highway has been experiencing deterioration of some of the concrete slabs and loss of existing crack sealant.

The Shoshone National Forest will hold public meetings this week to discuss the status of the travel management planning process.

In Cody, the meeting will be this Thursday, March 23rd, at Grizzly Hall in the Park County Library from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

During these meetings, the Shoshone National Forest will update the public as to why there has been a pause in the process, explain the next steps in developing a minimum road system, and present an updated timeline for the process.

Yellowstone National Park is seeking comments from the public on a proposal to construct a temporary gravel parking area near the Fairy Falls Trailhead at Midway Geyser Basin.

In 2016, Park staff began to monitor and analyze parking and road performance throughout the park, in particular between West Yellowstone and Old Faithful. Officials say that because of increased visitation, this lot would provide additional parking and help alleviate traffic congestion, safety concerns, and resource impacts.

The proposed parking area would be near the current Fairy Falls trailhead parking, and could accommodate about 74 passenger vehicles. Construction would begin as soon as conditions allow, with a target completion date of mid-summer.

Public comments will be collected until April 1st on the Planning, Environment and Public Comment website.