The corner of Boxelder Road and S. Gillette Avenue is petitioned by residents.
Shelby Bachtold hadn’t thought much about the intersection until a stranger pointed it out to her.
While fundraising last month for the planned 307 Patriots Labor Day “Back in Blue Barbecue,” Bachtold ran into an older woman, who chose not to use her name, who touched her heart when telling Bachtold about her struggles to go on daily walks.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the woman said she stopped using the Campbell County Recreation Center’s indoor walking track out of fear of catching the virus, and instead, had begun making laps around her neighborhood near Boxelder Road.
The woman told Bachtold that there are no opportunities to safely cross the busy Boxelder intersection, other than the two traffic lights located at the corners of 4-J Road and South Douglas Highway, which she claimed are “constantly hopping with traffic.” The woman explained that she’d also started carrying her own stop sign to make sure that drivers see her when crossing.
“She said that she’s always worried about getting hit when she’s crossing the street,” Bachtold said. “That area isn’t designed to keep people safe.”
Touched by the woman’s story, Bachtold brought the story up to fellow 307 Patriots members Ashley Ruff, Heather Wood, Patrick Parker and Douglas Gerard, to see if they had some extra time to “help a lady cross the street.”
They did. Bachtold and Gerard then put together a petition to the Gillette City Council on her behalf, explaining why they think a crosswalk should be added at the corner of Boxelder Road and S. Gillette Avenue pronto.
To this end, the group has also requested that the city paint the curb yellow and add lines along the road leading up to S. Emerson Avenue to warn drivers that the lane ends and pedestrians may be crossing.
Gerard set a goal of 200 signatures before he and Bachtold plan to approach Gillette City Council with a formal request for a new crosswalk. Right now, they just topped 100, after spending the weekend knocking on doors in the area to gather signatures. The group will also be going out tonight in hopes of adding more.
“Most of the people who live there want to see this crosswalk put in,” Bachtold said.
The group created a Facebook page, Cross Boxelder Safely Project, to virtualize their signature-collecting process for those who may not live in the area, but are still looking to show support.
City of Gillette’s Director of Development Services Ry Muzzareli said that the engineering department has been approached by others community members with concerns about that area and said the city has plans for upcoming projects to address the issues.
For starters, Muzzareli said that the department plans to conduct a traffic study to determine whether a cross walk is necessary in this area within the next 12 months.
In the meantime, 307 Patriots is planning to submit their petition to city council at their regularly scheduled meeting on August 4.
The group is welcome to bring the issue before the council who will either choose to jumpstart production or reject the project request, City of Gillette Communications Director Geno Palazzari said.
“We’ve had crosswalks taken out after they were installed on community requests,” Palazzari said during a phone interview Monday. “So, we’ll have to wait and see what the council thinks.”