Tax project would fill gap in N. Cache path
Voters to decide whether to use $1M in SPET funds for sidewalk from visitor center to pathway.
For $1 million the town of Jackson would like to give cyclists and pedestrians on North Cache a safe connection to the pathway north of town. The project is among six specific purpose excise tax proposition being sent to voters this August. If approved, it will place a wide, multiuse sidewalk on the quartermile between the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center and the pathway.
North Cache already has such a sidewalk on the east side of the road, running an eighth of a mile north from Mercill Avenue. The road is currently “a very wide boulevard with very wide parking on both sides that’s anything but friendly to pedestrians and cyclists,” Jackson Mayor Mark Barron said. “It doesn’t look like a nice, inviting gateway to the town of Jackson.”
Without a dedicated route to reach the pathway to the north, walkers and cyclists are currently exposed to more danger than recreating families might expect along the way, Jackson Hole Community Pathways Director Brian Schilling said.
“There’s a shoulder on Cache Street, and that works for users heading north, but with the north pathway we see a lot of families with younger kids heading up to ride on the pathway,” he said. “With that pathway [acting as a] draw there, we really need to do something more than just a striped bike lane on the shoulder.
“That’s not going to be safe for the number of people we see going up there,” he said. “he improvements are also needed, Schilling said, “because it’s part of the town’s overall sidewalk plan.”
Plans for Jackson’s sidewalks include providing many new ones on streets that currently lack them. The town and county’s pathways master plan states that this effort is necessary to give residents and visitors options for getting around. “By developing an integrated network of sidewalks, bike lanes, shareduse paths, transit connections and enhanced roadways, Jackson Hole will create a balanced approach that allows people the freedom to choose the mode of travel that is appropriate to their needs,” it states.
The Cache Street project is the second half of a larger project initiated years ago, Schilling said. “We were able to do the first part of the project several years ago,” he said. “We need to finish the project up to the pathway at Flat Creek Bridge.” The existing multiuse sidewalk between Mercill Avenue and the visitor center was originally meant to extend all the way to the pathway north along Highway 89, Jackson Public Works Director Larry Pardee said. Funding at the time was not sufficient to complete the sidewalk, which was built five years ago.
The proposed upgrade would complete the sidewalk, and the street as well, Pardee said. A complete street, he said, is one capable of safely carrying not only motorists but cyclists, walkers and others not using motors to get around.
Details of the project remain to be decided, Pardee said. “We don’t know exactly until the public process” what the finished product will look like, he said. Were voters to approve it, they and other members of the public would have a significant role to play in its design, he said. Elected officials, town staff and others would also collaborate in the sidewalk’s design, should the SPET be approved, he said.
Among improvements that could be added to the sidewalk are street lights, benches and trees, Pardee said. A simple asphalt pathway isn’t likely, Pardee said, but neither is an excess of additional features. “If they get really grandiose and start wanting lots of stuff, we didn’t ask for enough money,” he said. A significant portion of the cost will go toward replacing parking spaces between Highway 89 and the National Elk Refuge, Pardee said. “The feds want their parking lot back,” he said. The parking lot currently features lines marking a bike route, Pardee said. Several electrical boxes owned by Lower Valley Energy will also need to be moved. The west side of North Cache isn’t likely to see similar improvements any time soon, Pardee said. Buildings are too close to the street to permit an expanded sidewalk in the near future, he said. The project goes before voters along with five other SPET initiatives at the primary election on August 19.