Wyoming Medical Center

A valet driver greets a visitor outside the Wyoming Medical Center emergency room in March in Casper. The Casper City Council has decided it will raise the speed limit on Second Street outside the hospital.

The contentious 20 mph speed limit in front of Wyoming Medical Center will be lifted, after Casper’s City Council said it will nix the lowered speed limit during a work session Oct. 8

Based on speed data and city staff recommendations, the council agreed the Second Street speed limit between McKinley and Park streets should be brought back up to 30 mph after deciding earlier this year to lower the speed limit in that area to 20 mph.

King Boulevard will also see a speed limit increase, from 30 to 40 mph, based on speed data showing most people drive 40 mph on that street already.

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The issue first came up earlier this year, when the council lowered the speed limit in front of Wyoming Medical Center. The crash history near the two intersections on either side of the hospital warranted the reduction, according to a memo from Casper public services director Andrew Beamer and Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters to City Manager Carter Napier.

But the decision was poorly received, and given the response to that decision, council agreed to revisit the issue.

The council is bound in some respects by state statute, which limits speeds to 30 mph in residential areas and 20 mph in posted school zones. But outside of those requirements, the council has some freedom in determining how Casper residents commute. Downtown, for example, is set at 20 mph by city ordinance, and the default speed limit throughout the city is 30 mph unless otherwise posted.

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Last month the city opened the question to the public, seeking input directly from residents. Of the 65 responses made public by the city, the vast majority were complaints about the slower speed limit near the hospital.

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Despite the complaints, though, there is some evidence the reduced speed limit is working. According to the memo, more data has been collected since the reduced speed limit was implemented. A speed limit is typically set at the speed 85 percent of traffic is traveling at or below, according to the memo to Napier. When the speed limit near the hospital was 30 mph, the 85th percentile speed was 34 mph. With the reduced speed limit, that number is down to 28 mph.

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But residents had input beyond complaints about the speed limit near the hospital. A lack of traffic enforcement came up a number of times, as did the speed limits on Poplar Street, King Boulevard and West 13th Street.

Council can’t act on every recommendation residents made, partially because the Wyoming Department of Transportation is responsible for several stretches of road in Casper. But the council will continue evaluating speed limits throughout the city for the streets Casper officials have authority over.

The speed limit issue is part of a broader conversation around traffic and transportation being had at City Hall. An integral part of that discussion is safety, which McPheeters spoke about Tuesday night.

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One of the main areas McPheeters focused on were accidents caused by running red lights and stop signs. Between August 2018 and August 2019, there were 145 accidents involving running red lights and 44 accidents involving running stop signs.

“It’s indicative of more vehicles on our roadway; it’s indicative of an improving economy,” McPheeters said. “There are a lot of things that go into this.”

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Local Government Reporter

Morgan Hughes primarily covers local government. After growing up in rural Wisconsin, she graduated from Marquette University in 2018. She moved to Wyoming shortly after and covered education in Cheyenne before joining the Star-Tribune in May 2019.

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