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A car passes by the intersection of Christensen Road and U.S. Highway 30 on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, east of Cheyenne. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – Cheyenne City Council members on Monday unanimously approved a $710,983 contract modification to an agreement with HDR Engineering Inc. for the Christensen railroad overpass corridor project in the eastern part of the city.

There was no discussion on the measure, as the modification was voted on as part of a consent agenda, meaning several items were considered in one motion. Voting on a consent agenda of several items is a regular feature of council meetings.

Deputy city engineer Wes Bay told Finance Committee members last week that “initially, the project was planned to be constructed in one season, but it was decided that this was not possible.”

The modification also includes using a full-time bridge inspector on-site, as well as additional items required by the project specifications that were not included on the original contract.

Voters approved a ballot measure in May 2017 to spend $15 million in sixth-penny sales tax revenue on the extension of Christensen Road and the overpass.

Christensen Road is broken into three sections. The first section ends at U.S. Highway 30, just east of where Dell Range Boulevard terminates, and serves residents in the far northeastern portion of town.

Farther south, a second small section of Christensen picks up at East Pershing Boulevard and runs two blocks south, ending at Tate Road.

The final section picks up farther south, at Commerce Circle within the Cheyenne Business Parkway. The route then runs a short distance south, where it becomes Campstool Road.

The project also includes a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, which run east and west just north of the Cheyenne Business Parkway.

In a related item, but not part of the action council members took Monday, city officials are reevaluating the intersection design at East Pershing Boulevard and Christensen Road.

“The contract modification that was before us (Monday) only dealt with field design changes,” Council President Rocky Case said after the meeting. “It has nothing to do with the intersection, so all options are still on the table with the intersection design.”

Any major changes with the intersection design, as well as the project, will come before council, Case said.

He said the city’s engineering department will hold monthly meeting with Ward 3 council members, as well as city leadership on the progress of the project.

Bay said last week that a roundabout was originally planned for the Pershing/Christensen intersection, but officials are now discussing other options.

“There are issues with the grades coming into and out of the roundabout, which will cause problems with trucks trying to slow down and also for trucks to accelerate toward Highway 30,” Bay said last week. “We’re evaluating the intersection to see if there’s a better solution than a roundabout.”

One possibility for the intersection is an “S” curve, a section of road where a curve to the left or right is immediately followed by a curve in the opposite direction.

“It basically brings Pershing up to Christensen at a 90-degree angle,” Bay said last week. “Right now, there’s a 65-degree skew between Pershing and Christensen. It’s more ideal to have a 90-degree angle.”

Bay said there’s no timetable for a decision on the intersection.

“When people see that Pershing and Christensen is going to be shut down, which it is, that has nothing to do with the intersection design,” Case said. “That’s all about moving field dirt from one location to another where it’s needed.”

Construction on the intersection itself is not scheduled to start until next spring, Case said.

“We will have some public meetings in the next several months where we can unpack what those design changes are going to look like,” he said.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends improving safety by realigning intersection approaches to reduce or eliminate intersection skew.

Potential problems associated with skewed intersections that could cause accidents, according to the FHWA, include vehicles

having a longer distance to traverse while crossing or turning onto the intersecting roadway, resulting in an increased period of exposure to the cross-street traffic, and older drivers finding it more difficult to turn their heads, necks or upper bodies for an adequate line of sight down an acute-angle approach.

In addition, a driver’s sight angle for observing opposing traffic and pedestrian crossings is decreased in a skewed intersection, FHWA says, and motorists may have more difficulty aligning their vehicles as they enter the cross street to make a right or left turn.

Steve Knight is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. He can be reached at 307-633-3182 or sknight@wyomingnews.com.

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