City supports Tower traffic light project

By Sarah Pridgeon

The City of Sundance has signed a letter of support for WYDOT’s planned project to install traffic lights in the Devils Tower and Aladdin area. The temporary lights would only be in service during the heavy congestion around Rally week, said Council Member and WYDOT employee Brad Marchant; at all other times, only poles and wire would be visible at each site.

Marchant explained the reasoning for the project at Tuesday’s meeting of the council. The three junctions are located on the loop that motorcycles tend to travel during the rally.

With stop signs in place, he said, bikers tend to get impatient and pull out – sometimes singly, sometimes in large groups.

“That’s how we get wrecks,” he said, telling the council that it got to the point where people were stationed at those junctions during Rally week just to work the wrecks.

To solve the problem, WYDOT hired portable traffic lights for the 75th anniversary rally in 2015. Because they are not common, Marchant said, they had to be brought in from Minnesota at a cost of $50,000.

As soon as WYDOT began using the lights, bikers stopped having accidents at the intersections. As the department was planning to redo the highway in that area to ease congestion, it was felt that installing temporary lights at the same time would be a good idea to make use of the contractor’s mobilization and therefore save money.

The cost of installing the lights is estimated at $200,000-$250,000, Marchant said. They will therefore pay for themselves within five years.

According to Marchant, the installation will be poles and single-span wire from which a traffic light can be hung before Rally week and taken down afterwards, removing the need to rent traffic light towers.

Marchant asked the council if it would consider supporting the project; speaking from his position as a WYDOT employee, he recused himself from the vote. A motion was passed to allow the mayor to sign a letter of support for the project.

(Jeff Moberg photo)