Transportation, it influences and shapes a region and its society-this is why I pursued the field of Planning. I previously had the opportunity to experience different cities and states and see transportation applied in different settings. Most recently, I was able to utilize many means of transportation to reach my goal of visiting Yellowstone National Park. I drove to Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Airport, after a few layovers I flew to Denver, met my friend and we drove through the state of Wyoming and eventually arrived in Yellowstone. With nearly 600 miles of vast Wyoming landscape, we would take turns driving. When I wasn’t driving and to keep busy, I would mentally log certain road segments how they were designed as I did for the asset inventory of local roads and bridges I collected for PennDOT in Luzerne County: lane width, shoulder type, median type, bridge length etc. In this project which I just completed for PennDOT, I inventoried “non liquid fuel” roads which are municipality owned and maintained roads not funded through the Liquid Fuel tax as well as inventoried local bridges between 8 and 20 feet in length.
Along the way, my friend and I stopped in several small towns in Wyoming. Something that stood out to me within this small town was a flashing yellow left-turn arrow. I haven’t seen it before but it functioned well by communicating a left turn is allowed but proceed with caution and yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. After the flashing yellow arrow it eventually turns into a constant solid yellow left arrow and then a constant solid red left arrow. As I researched with Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), the flashing yellow left-turn arrow signal display replaced the circular green display for left turns. The argument is, it reduces confusion in the turning lane by not displaying the same signal to oncoming traffic. According to WYDOT’s Flashing Yellow Arrow Signal article, “A national study conducted for the Federal Highway Administration demonstrated the new [flashing yellow left-turn] signal helps to prevent crashes, increase intersection capacity and provide additional traffic management flexibility.”
We eventually made it into Yellowstone National Park. After 5 days of exploring in the park by hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing we made our way south to Grand Teton National Park then eventually into the town of Jackson, Wyoming- a ski resort town nestled in this awe-inspiring landscape of wilderness. This town was very walkable and also showed a unique way of pedestrian crossing. At a crosswalk which was not an intersection, it had a colored walkway for the pedestrian painted on the road as well as a yellow sign indicating pedestrian crossing with an arrow. The pedestrian was required to pick up a red flag and hold it up while walking across the street. This was different at first, but once all the vehicles yielded to us, I saw that this was a responsible and functional way for pedestrian crossing. At main intersections within the town of Jackson they did have the audible pedestrian crossing signals. From there we eventually made our way back to Denver with nearly 2,000 miles of driving through Wyoming.
After this week of utilizing many means of transportation (even by horse) and exploring Yellowstone and getting familiar with small towns located along the way, I viewed this trip through the eyes of a planner. It was well worth it.
by Daniel Butch