Why the Tribal Trail Connector will make Highway 22 Worse
The open space near the proposed Tribal Trail Connector Road is a large space between the developed areas of Wilson and the Town of Jackson that is a refuge for local wildlife and plant species. The area benefits from little human traffic other than the bike path and a few homes in the area. Most importantly, it is the site of a fen – a rare type of wetland that takes millennia to form. Fens provide habitat for abundant wild species, play a significant role in improving water quality, and are a natural carbon sink for the community. Our abundant wildlife and pristine natural environment are two of our community’s biggest assets. We should not pave over this valuable habitat for an inefficient roadway that would reduce space for wildlife to move through the corridor, ruin the fragile wetlands, and bring little benefit to the community.
Do we really need another intersection on WYO 22?
This precious ecological site is being considered for a road construction project connecting Tribal Trail Road with Wyoming Highway 22. Adding another intersection to that area would likely reduce the flow of vehicles and cause more congestion, which is already bad. An additional intersection would also create another conflict point, meaning that cars would have to reduce speed, or even come to a complete stop, to let other vehicles enter the roadway. According to Teton County Engineers, the Tribal Trail Connector would increase traffic and delays. Increasing the number of vehicles on Highway 22 will only reduce vehicle travel speeds and lengthen drive times.
The Alliance understands the need to address transportation issues, but constructing the Tribal Trail Connector is not the solution. The population of Jackson is growing, and visitation numbers are increasing year after year. Constructing the Tribal Trail Road will not help traffic flow on Highway 22. We support the no-build option and ask for more focus on implementing a Transportation Demand Management program. We would rather see increased efficiency and access to our transportation network before spending millions of taxpayer dollars on ineffective road infrastructure. Please urge the Teton County Commissioners to vote for the no-build option for the Tribal Trail Connector.
Send your comments to the County Commissioners via this link
Addressing our community’s transportation problems is like solving a puzzle – we need to make sure we understand the big picture before placing any pieces.
If we build this road before figuring out the big picture, it could:
- Cause increased traffic and delay on Highway 22
- Use up resources we need for more effective solutions
- Be impossible to take back if we get it wrong
The County has an ongoing process to determine what kind of intersection to build; two of the alternatives include signalized intersections. Do we want another intersection like Spring Gulch backing up traffic and adding to the delay we all experience? The County’s traffic model (see pg. 6) shows the construction of TTCR would add over 1,000 vehicles per day to Highway 22, even assuming minimal use of the new road as a bypass for vehicles traveling to and from Rafter J, Melody Ranch, and anywhere south of town. Why would we take a first step to address our congestion problem that adds traffic and delay to 22?
The preliminary estimates for the construction cost of this road range anywhere from $5M to $14M, with those costs likely to increase as the County and WYDOT finalize the design and factor in rising costs of construction. The County will incur costs to complete the required environmental analyses and to negotiate with landowners outside of the existing right-of-way. We know that solving our transportation puzzle will take significant funding resources; shouldn’t we save our money until we know what the most effective solutions will be?
If we get this decision wrong, there’s no going back. We’ll have worsened traffic on Highway 22, spent millions of taxpayer dollars, impacted high-quality wetlands, and we won’t get a do-over. Doesn’t it make sense to proceed slowly, and get the big picture clear before we make any major capital improvements decisions?