Got Downtown Parking on Your Mind?

In the Spring of 2016, the Cheyenne MPO (MPO) engaged Kimley-Horn and Associates to develop a Strategic Parking Management Plan for Downtown Cheyenne. Unique from a more traditional supply/demand assessment, a parking strategic plan is a higher-level planning and visioning document designed to guide the City and other stakeholders as they work to improve parking access for all who live in, visit and enjoy Downtown Cheyenne.

This blog post is meant to serve as a “Reader’s Digest” summary of the Downtown Strategic Parking Management Plan’s key highlights.

For those who want a bit more detail, the Executive Summary, full Draft Report and Technical Appendices are also currently available.

For ease of reference, this blog post is organized into four sections:

  1. What the Strategic Parking Management Plan process includes;
  2. How well downtown parking is currently utilized, on- and off-street;
  3. Feedback from community members who participated in outreach efforts; and
  4. Recommended key action items for parking management in Downtown Cheyenne

What the Strategic Parking Management Plan process included:

  • Review of existing community planning and visioning document
  • Data collection to understand how well utilized on- and off-street parking is currently
  • Several rounds of in-person and online public outreach
  • Identification of key issues specific to Cheyenne (i.e., parking garage safety, access during snow events, parking for downtown residents)
  • Development of specific recommendations on public parking program governance, technology, enforcement and facility management

. . .And what the Strategic Parking Management Plan did not include:

  • Specific operation, management and pricing plans
  • Parking supply/demand analysis for individual downtown properties
  • Recommendations for private property or development sites

How well downtown parking is currently utilized, on- and off-street:

  • Data was collected morning, afternoon and early evening during the week, on the weekend and during a downtown event
  • In its entirety, Downtown Cheyenne has adequate parking to meet current demands.
  • In general, peak parking demand overall never exceeded 50% in the study area on the days surveyed.
  • However, as documented in the parking occupancy “heat maps”, there are certain lots/blocks that exceed 85% at certain times of the day that could benefit from more supply
  • Northeast corner of study area is well-utilized on both weekday and weekend
  • Garages have plenty of available capacity, even during events

  • *Additional maps for each collection period is available in the Draft Strategic Parking Plan

Feedback from community members who participated in outreach efforts:

The following key themes emerged from conversations with community members through the Study. Feedback was sought online via survey, project website, two community open houses and through smaller focus group meetings.

  • Perception that there is no parking and that the current parking program is primarily enforcement-focused
  • Lots of underutilized private parking lots in downtown
  • Perception that parking garages and walkways/access to garages are unsafe
  • Consensus that Cheyenne is not ready for paid parking
  • Time restrictions can be unfair to downtown residents
  • Improving the pedestrian experience is important
  • No convenient way to legally park for more than two hours, on- or off-street
  • Balancing downtown resident, employee and visitor parking needs and experiences is important
  • Special attention needs to be given to ADA parking options and downtown accessibility in general
  • Public education, including enhanced communication about all parking and transportation options is very important

Recommended key action items for parking management in Downtown Cheyenne:

  1. Adopt New Program Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles
    1. Utilize a Private Parking Management firm to implement and manage the provided Parking Best Practices
  2. Evaluate investment in New On-Street and Off-Street Parking Technology
  3. Develop a Comprehensive Parking Planning Function that leverages Parking as a Community and Economic Development Strategy
  4. Develop a Proactive Facility Maintenance Program Including Regular Facility Condition Appraisals, Prioritized Facility Rehabilitation Plans and the Creation of Parking Facility Maintenance Reserves
  5. Develop a New Parking Program Brand and Marketing Program including significant on-going community outreach strategies.
  6. Invest in Training and Staff Development with a Goal of Mastering the Fundamentals of Parking System Management and Operations
  7. Expand the Scope of the Parking Program over Time to be More Supportive of Alternative Modes of Transportation and Embrace More of an “Access Management Philosophy”
  8. Assess the Current Parking Enforcement Program Using the Tools Provided
    1. Invest in Mobile License Plate Recognition Technology
  9. Address Abuse of Accessible Parking Placards to Improve Parking Availability for Those Who Are Truly Disabled
  10. Establish the parking program as a separate enterprise fund and combine all parking related revenue streams into this fund

The MPO anticipates that the Downtown Strategic Management Plan will be presented to City Council once all public comments have been received. Please direct your questions and comments about the planning process and/or its recommendations to the MPO Office at 638-4385 or via email to schakraborty@cheyennempo.org by March 17th. 

West Lincolnway “Welcome Mat”

Completed in 2016, the landscaping and fence enhancements along Cheyenne’s West Lincolnway entryway create a stunning “welcome mat” for motorists entering the city.

What you may not know is that plans for this project began all the way back in 2004… and there’s still more to come!

Join us as we take a blast to the past, following this project from its initial plans to its current phase, then look toward the future to see what’s next.

2004:  As the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) began scheduling the reconstruction of West Lincolnway between I-80 and Westland Road for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) began the planning for enhancements and landscaping along the corridor.

To kick off the planning, MPO reached out to Dave Ohde and Associates, who prepared the West Lincolnway Landscaping and Streetscaping Plan—a 35% design plan for landscaping, streetscaping and sidewalk on the north side of Lincolnway between I-80 and Westland Road.

After viewing the plan, Cheyenne citizens and members of the business community suggested that we add landscaped medians into the design. We thought that was a wonderful idea; this is a great example of why we value gathering public input!

It was thanks to this very input, in fact, that the plan was modified to include development of raised, landscaped and lighted medians, accented by architectural features that evoked Cheyenne’s railroad history.

2009:  Five years after the initial West Lincolnway reconstruction plan was created, funds became available to WYDOT—via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—for the actual construction to begin.

Thanks once again to the persistence of Cheyenne citizens, local businesses and LEADS, Cheyenne’s economic development agency, the MPO began to budget additional funds to design the West Lincolnway “gateway” enhancements for the south side of the plan, as well as finalize the landscape/streetscape details for areas on the north side where nearby businesses were willing to participate.

2012:  Three years later, with budgeted funds in hand, the MPO requested bids to design a fence and create landscaping for the south side of the corridor from I-80 to the BNSF Railway overpass east of Westland Road.

After all bids were received, a selection committee chose Greenscape Design, LLC. (Located just down the road in Fort Collins, CO.)

The planning project took the better part of a year to complete. MPO made the most of those busy 12 months by holding regular coordination meetings with a steering committee (consisting of railroad executives, WYDOT personnel, city engineering, local civic boosters and businesses along the corridor), as well hosting a public open house to receive citizen input on the plan.

2013:  In February, Greenscape Design, LLC completed the south side landscape plan. After approval, it was handed over to the City Engineering department to go out to bid for construction.

That same winter, WYDOT committed to providing $190,000.

2014:  Here’s where all the hard work of the past decade (time sure flies when you’re reading!) was finally brought to life.

The first phase of the West Lincolnway enhancement project was built in front of Tyrrell Chevrolet, resulting in a robust landscape of trees, shrubs, boulders and turf, and complete with irrigation and a meandering sidewalk. Local match funds were provided by Tyrrell Chevrolet.  

2015:  In August, Phase Two plans and bid documents were completed to begin the enhancements and create the landscaping for the area (between the south side curb of the highway to the Union Pacific property line) from the BNSF Railroad overpass by Westland Road to the main entrance to Little America by I-80.

The first bid on the project was twice the cost estimate and available funding from WYDOT. All bids were unfortunately rejected, so it was back to the drawing board for a redesign to lower costs.

2016:  With the project redesign completed, a rebid was able to take place in March. In addition, WYDOT made available more federal funds for a grand total of $400,000 to go toward the project.

Construction began in the summer, resulting in the installation and placement of a three-rail wood fence feature (that goes from the BNSF Railway overpass to just in front of Little America) and a four-column fence between Westland Road and Southwest Drive. The fence feature has sturdy cross fencing, accented by black, powder-coated truss brackets that connect the columns. In addition to the fence feature and fence, the completed project in this area includes irrigation, berms and a hearty fescue ground cover along two-thirds of the total project length.

2017 – ?  It is the hope of the MPO that more funds can be obtained to eventually complete the entire enhancement and landscaping plan. The work completed in 2016 is a good start to improving and beautifying the western entryway into the City of Cheyenne, and we can’t wait to see the plan through to completion.

View this plan in its entirety

 

Cheyenne MPO Regional Freight Mobility Study

From its historic roots, Cheyenne has been a freight community going back to 1867 when the Transcontinental Union Pacific Railroad founded the frontier town as a major railyard. Cheyenne grew around the UPRR mainline and eventually around the BNSF Railroad, I-25 and I-80. At the crossroads of these major national freight corridors and economic growth as a result of these corridors, the MPO believed a freight plan would be beneficial in ensuring freight protection and movement while mitigating increasing freight impacts.

Cheyenne is divided by the UPRR with only six crossings. Additionally, over the last 8 years, the Swan Ranch Logistics hub has developed into a 7,000 acre commercial and industrial park with over 16 miles of track providing direct access to I-25 and I-80, only a mile away.

Freight movement plays a vital role in the local economy and the MPO believes a freight plan for the Cheyenne region is tremendously beneficial. The plan utilized unique public input techniques to collect data; reached out to freight providers in oil, coal and wind energy, coordinated with WYDOT’s ITS Division and their plans to change Port-Of-Entries and recognized the need for advanced warnings for winter road closures in addition to assistance to long-haul drivers who are stranded in the area until the interstates open.

Program analysis led to the development of the Plans of Safety, Infrastructure Condition, Congestion Reduction, System Reliability and Freight Movement and Economic Vitality. Short and long-term transportation improvement projects were identified and prioritized for future projects.

The plan was cooperated among city, county, state, ports-of-entry, freight shippers and receivers, motor carriers, Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Trucking Association and the Director of Public Affairs for Union Pacific Railroad in Colorado and Wyoming.  This project demonstrates the importance of coordinating with the local economic development office as thousands of freight related jobs are in Cheyenne and many more thousands are possible given the availability of freight related land use and transportation access.

 

What is an MPO?

We’re the agency responsible for developing transportation plans and policies and coordinating the various federal, state, and local agencies involved in long-range transportation planning and project development.

A common misperception is that we’re a city agency.  We’re not.  We’re a federally-funded organization to work on regional issues related to growth and development.  We work very closely with the city and county to improve transportation and quality-of life improvements for the Cheyenne area.

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are all over the country.  They’re federally mandated for every community with over 50,000 people.  Congress created MPOs to ensure that existing and future expenditures of governmental funds for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive (3C) planning process. This helps assure that tax dollars are spent wisely.

What have we been doing in Cheyenne?  We’ve been very busy.  Check out all of our projects here.  Some of our important  projects include planning the 19th-Converse-Pershing roundabout, the Cheyenne On-street Bicycle plan, the Storey and Converse extension, the Norris Viaduct, the updated Greenway Plan, the Greenway extension, and many more.

Probably one of the most important projects we’re working on now is the Downtown Strategic Parking Plan. This Plan will study and analyze the parking situation in downtown Cheyenne and how the City can manage its parking more cost effectively and efficiently.

While these various studies are going on, we also prepare a Transportation Improvement Program.  These contain a prioritized list of all proposed and funded highway, street, transit, airport, and public utility projects in Cheyenne for a four year period. We provide the funding estimates for the implementation of those programs as well.

Central to our mission is safety of the travelling public, whatever your preferred means of transportation might be.  The Cheyenne MPO was one of the first in the country to develop a dedicated regional transportation safety management plan to address crashes and injuries on our roadways.

You can read all about our organization here.  

We want your questions, your feedback, and your concerns.  

In the near future, we will hold a live Question and Answer period on Facebook where you can ask me anything about the MPO or any of our ongoing projects.

Until then, thank you for your interest and please stay engaged in planning for the future of your community.

Sincerely,
Tom Mason