On Monday afternoon around 5:30, a silver Chevy with Park County plates crashed through a road-closed sign and was a hair’s breadth away from colliding with a skid steer and operator working on the intersection at 16th and Sheridan Avenue, said Ed Epperson, who is overseeing the work with his company, S&S Builders.
The truck hit a curb and popped into the air, somehow avoiding hitting any fresh concrete or workers before crash landing in the Denny Menholt parking lot and speeding away.
“It was going fast enough there was daylight under all four tires,” Epperson said. “I thought it T-boned one of the [Denny Menholt] vehicles, it was so loud when it landed.”
The Cody Police Department is investigating the incident and has taken law enforcement action against the driver.
It’s another event in a long series of violations and carelessness by drivers in the Sheridan work zone, primarily from Park County drivers, said WYDOT spokesman Cody Beers.
Beers had a meeting with Cody Mayor Matt Hall, City Administrator Barry Cook and Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker to discuss this latest incident.
“They’re going to look at it pretty hard,” Beers said. “We’re going to have some enhanced enforcement there.”
Beers said that it will likely include an increase in issuing tickets for illegal left-hand turns made onto North 16th.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Chief Baker said police would be a bigger presence around the area to deter people from ignoring signs.
“That left-hand turn is a very unsafe turn,” he said.
Since the Sheridan construction project resumed in August, the police officers have tracked at least three crashes, five complaints, and issued at least 26 warnings in the zone. The Sheriff’s Office also issued one warning in that time frame.
“Please, people, respect the traffic controls down on Main Street,” Hall said in a video message on Wednesday. “It certainly does not help when people ignore the traffic signs and then display their personal frustrations by making obscene gestures at the construction workers, 90% of whom live either in Cody or Park County.”
In a span of about five minutes spent at the 16th & Sheridan intersection Tuesday morning, the Enterprise witnessed no fewer than three people trying to make an illegal left turn, and at least one instance of the so-called “single-finger salute” being directed at members of the construction crew.
Left-hand turns through the construction zone are illegal. Beers also encouraged driver, to make special note of the stop lines ahead of the traffic lights at 16th. Beers said those stop lines are farther back to give semi-trucks the room they need to turn on Sheridan.
(Zac Taylor contributed to this report)