Stop sign change a go

By Chad Abshire

RAWLINS — In a narrow vote and at times contentious discussion, Rawlins City Council approved a change in an uncommon traffic pattern on the city’s south side that officials say creates confusion and accidents.

In a 4-3 vote, the three-way stop at Hugus and Jackson Streets that directs northbound traffic to go over the bridge will be removed in the near future.

The measure was sent to the Council after the Urban Systems Committee conducted a March meeting to discuss the issue.

Vice Mayor Steve Nicholson and Councilmen DeBari Martinez and Louis Espinoza voted against the measure, citing a lack of accident study, while indicating that no problem existed.

“There’s nothing wrong with that (stop sign); there’s no problems there,” Martinez said. “If we remove that sign, cars headed north will go straight and somebody coming over the overpass would have to stop on an incline to make a turn to go east.

“That creates a worse problem,” Martinez said.

Nicholson, a lifetime Rawlins resident who said he travels that bridge “an awful lot,” said he’d “never seen an issue.”

He requested figures from accident history at the location, but none were provided.

Along with removing a traffic pattern that interim City Manager Scott Hannum said wasn’t recognized as an official method by the state, frontage roads running parallel to the bridge are being changed to allow for northbound traffic only, eliminating access to Hugus from State Street via those roads.

Doing so removes a stop sign at the foot of the bridge that Hannum and Public Works Administrative Secretary Danielle Gross said creates confusion for motorists unfamiliar with a three-way stop.

“If someone is sitting there, I assume they’re not from Rawlins. There’s a really good potential when I make a left hand turn, they’re going to pull out in front of me because three-way stops are really uncommon,” Gross said. “That stop is unconventional.”

“Three-way stops don’t exist and unless you live in the community, you’re anticipating that stop,” Hannum said, referring to southbound traffic heading across the bridge.

“We do get a lot of confusion. We’ve had people rear-ended on the bridge. And a lot of times it’s out of town people that are confused by a three-way stop, so they stop because they don’t know what to do,” he said. “They don’t know if (northbound) is going straight. They’re not used to seeing traffic stopped at a three-way intersection. It’s pretty unique.”

He said northbound and southbound traffic, usually from out-of-towners unfamiliar with the location, stop on the bridge due to stop signs that don’t direct bridge traffic, but the access roads at both ends. While the State Street stop sign will be removed due to not allowing southbound traffic, the sign for the street that feeds onto Cedar Street will remain for now.

“We do believe that with proper notice and training by the public, they will understand it’s a through-street over time,” Hannum said.

Mayor Robert Grauberger said he was in favor of the change.

“I live on the south side. I’ve lived there for six generations. And don’t tell me people don’t get stuck on that damn (bridge) because I’ve seen four or five cars spun out on that. You’ll see it every winter,” he said. “That’s because they have come to a complete stop and try to get up there.”

With the three-way stop, Grauberger said the city was “creating a problem there.”

Gross said she had identified one property that would be affected by limiting access on the frontage roads between Hugus and State Streets, but those impacted would have access from another direction.

That didn’t sit well with Nicholson, saying it would cause issues for the people living there because they “can’t access their property from that direction, because now they can’t be going southbound on that street.”

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