A new shared-use path along the north side of Snowy Range Road from the turn for WYO 130/WYO 230 to the I-80 overpass is the subject of a feasibility study and a public meeting set for Thursday.

Laramie Parks and Recreation Director Todd Feezer says it certainly seems practical, but there are other factors to consider.

"We also have to evaluate 'is it the right thing to do?'" Feezer says. "Are we making the right decisions for the businesses and the residents on that roadway? Are we making the right decisions as far as WYDOT is concerned for traffic counts?"

"Really, trying to figure out what the best alternatives are to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety along Snowy Range Road," Feezer explains.

The department hopes to hear more public feedback on landscaping enhancement concepts for the project at Thursday's open house, set for 6-7 p.m. at Linford Elementary, 120 S. Jefferson St.

Feezer says he thinks the pathway is the way to go, first and foremost from a safety aspect -- largely for the folks already biking and walking along the roadway.

"If we can improve bicycle safety and pedestrian safety, I think that's important," Feezer says. "And you would see more bicycles and pedestrians using it."

"On the flip side, there's also the economic development piece," Feezer says. "If we bring more bikes and people on foot, then those businesses along there would hopefully stand to gain by having more foot traffic and more people coming to their businesses."

Installation of a shared-use pathway would also make the corridor more appealing, an element of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

"Whether it's a trail on one side and bike lanes and maybe a green-grass area with a few pieces of artwork here and there, we can actually improve the beautification of that corridor, especially at the I-80 interchange and the 130/230 Y," Feezer says. "You can have improvements on landscaping and make it a much more beautiful corridor than it is."

The feasibility study will include further public comment before going through the traffic commission, planning commission and a city council work session, after which the study would be finalized.

At that point, if funding can be found to pay for an engineering firm to design the planned improvements, a final direction for the project would become clear.

"What we're trying to do through the feasibility study is break it down into some phases," Feezer says, "where we could create some low-hanging fruit that we can get taken care of."

For example, WYDOT may be able to stripe in bicycle lanes when the agency resurfaces the roadway, creating a lane primarily for commuter bicycles.

"There's little parts and pieces that we can hopefully pluck out of that low-hanging fruit," Feezer says. "And by the time we're all done, we have a full pie that's ready to eat."

The final product would likely be a combination of solutions for foot and bicycle traffic, Feezer says.

"Where it was a shared-use path, maybe not a full eleven feet, but maybe somewhere up to eight feet," Feezer says. "That would be a wider path where pedestrians and bicycles could still co-exist on the recreational level, but you'd still have bicycle lanes on Snowy Range Road so that commuter bicycles or people that are riding for exercise at higher rates of speed could utilize those."

"I don't think one single model is going to work on Snowy Range Road. We're going to have to employ lots of different practices," Feezer says.

Feezer says businesses owners along the corridor are passionate about their businesses.

"They're there for a reason, and we want to make sure that we're listening to what their requests are and trying to make the best decision for what the pedestrian/bicycle safety and traffic counts are," says Feezer. "It's a very fun process to be going through."