Tag archive

traffic

Blizzard Of Chaos, Part 2: Cheyenne Police Says Dairy Queen Owner Not Breaking Any Laws

in News/Business
20710

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Ellen@cowboystatedaily.com

The drive can be maddening and to some, dangerous.

When traffic backs up in front of the Dairy Queen on Pershing Boulevard in Cheyenne, it really backs up.

The street turns into a parking lot, according to a popular meme circulating on local social media channels.

And the co-owner of the Dairy Queen knows why: his restaurant sells a quality product. As a result, his employees serve around 400 cars per day which often spill out onto the busy roadway.

Randy Filbin is also aware that the fast food and ice cream shop’s longtime location is not the most ideal, especially at particularly busy times.

It can be a struggle having a small parking lot and a large customer base, but Filbin, his father and their business partner do their best to make things work.

“We’ve gotten some grief because our lobby hasn’t reopened since COVID, but I don’t think a lot of people understand about coming out of this pandemic and the workforce shortage,” Filbin told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “Now, there’s a lot of competition to hire people. In March, when I normally would have 47 to 50 employees, I was down to 24. We were struggling.”

Filbin’s intent is to get enough staff to reopen the Dairy Queen lobby by the end of the month, but he pointed out that even once the lobby opens, there will still likely be some traffic on Pershing Boulevard.

Is It Really That Bad?

Although some residents predict traffic fatalities will result because of the congestion, those claims may be a bit hyperbolic.

According to Cheyenne Police Department spokeswoman Alex Farkas, 10 traffic incidents occurred in the Dairy Queen area in the last year. Five of those occurred at the Dairy Queen address itself and five happened near the restaurant between Duff Avenue and Pershing Boulevard.

Of those 10 incidents, one was directly related to the drive-thru. A collision took place as a driver was turning into the location.

There were two rear endings at the Dairy Queen, one of which involved a single vehicle backing into something and another related to a driver being under the influence.

The police department also received a traffic complaint from the Dairy Queen address on June 2 regarding speeding and reckless driving.

Outgrown

Filbin said it was likely that the Dairy Queen has outgrown its location after more than 40 years in its spot on Pershing Boulevard, but added that in today’s economy, moving the business could be a huge risk.

“Sometimes when you move locations, you hurt your business by doing so,” Filbin said.

“It’s just a really scary investment when you’re talking about $2.5 to maybe $3 million with a staggered workforce,” he said. We’ve also talked about opening another location, but when you’re having trouble staffing one, what do you think is going to happen at another?”

Looking at another local hot spot, Chick-Fil-A can have dozens of cars waiting in its drive-thru lines as well.

But they have the benefit of data which shows wherever they put a franchise, people will follow. So they know they’ve got to build adequate space for the traffic — which they did 7 years ago when Cheyenne’s first Chick-Fil-A drive-thru opened up.

And the people came. So much so that occasionally the traffic spills over there too — and they have significantly more space.

A recent drive-thru study showed Chick-Fil-A at the top of its class with 77% of its drive-thru experiences having three or more cars in line while 35.5 percent had six or more cars in line. For context, McDonald’s claimed the second-busiest drive thru, and only 41.8 percent of its drive thrus had three or more cars and 9.1 percent had six or more.

This information is interesting but it won’t do anything for Filbin. He’s already in place and there’s no way to expand.

Street Legal

As for the traffic issues, he has spoken with the Cheyenne Police Department and asked whether there is anything they can do.

“They said that as long as a car has their turn signal on to indicate they’re going into the restaurant, then that is the legal thing to do,” Filbin said. “It might not be the safest thing, but it is the legal one.”

Sgt. Ryan Trimble, Cheyenne police’s traffic safety supervisor, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that Filbin was right.

As long as no one is blocking the Duff/Pershing intersection or the crosswalk and the left lane of traffic is clear, the traffic congestion into Dairy Queen might be a nuisance, but not illegal.

“If a person is unable to get into the parking lot, they are allowed to remain in the roadway as long as they’re not completely stopping traffic,” Trimble said. “Same rules apply when turning left into the parking lot.”

The sergeant said Cheyenne police see traffic congestion at other places besides Dairy Queen too. Some schools have drop-off lines so long they actually do impede traffic.

Farkas said the Dairy Queen traffic jams were a good reminder for drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to slow down in area where congestion might be an issue.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Blizzard Of Chaos: Cheyenne’s Dairy Queen Attracts Customers And Accidents

in News
Photo by Harvey Deselms
20681

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike and Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s usually a good thing when business is booming and customers are lined-up to visit. But in Cheyenne, one local fast food restaurant is so busy that ill-will is being served on the menu along with the food.

The problem is the location. The city’s sole Dairy Queen is located on one of the most busy streets, Pershing Boulevard.

Once COVID shut the lobby down, it’s stayed closed. But it’s more popular than ever. And it’s all drive-thru traffic.

As a result, cars will line up in the left lane of the two-lane eastbound section of the street leaving just one lane open for travel.

Fist-Fights

Sometimes the line on Pershing surpasses 20 cars, observers say, creating accidents, near accidents, slowdowns, and sometimes altercations.

Just two weeks ago, an accident occurred in front of the popular restaurant and participants in the crash tried to settle the score not through insurance agencies but with their fists.

Local fine arts gallery owner Harvey Deselms took one photo of a recent accident and posted it on Facebook and the response — overwhelming — was indicative of just how much some people are upset about it.

“They do a booming business there, it’s just in an unfortunate spot,” Deselms told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “I think it would alleviate a lot of the problems if they would open the lobby back up.”

Of the accident, Deselms said he was not laying blame at the Dairy Queen owners, employees, or the city of Cheyenne, but rather irresponsible drivers.

“Someone Will Get Killed”

Cheyenne resident Kayla Parker told Cowboy State Daily that she is “fed-up” with what she called a parking lot in front of Dairy Queen and now refuses to drive on Pershing Boulevard.

“Guaranteed that someone will get killed there,” Parker said.  “No one obeys the speed limit, people are flying down Pershing at 70mph and then a bunch of dumbasses are sitting in the middle of the street waiting for their stupid chili cheese dog.”

“I’ve called the police numerous times and get jack squat,” she continued.  “My advice is for everyone to call the police department and complain.”

“Disaster Waiting To Happen”

Fellow resident Steve Moore agreed.  He said he’s tried to find out the name of the franchise owner but no one will tell him.

He said because the franchise owner, in his opinion, isn’t doing anything about it, dire results are a certainty.

“The franchise owner doesn’t care about Cheyenne,” Moore said.  “Someone is going to die in front of their Dairy Queen and they don’t care.”

Moore said the issue can be fixed but only if Cheyenne residents get involved.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen and unless the people stand-up and say no more, there’s going to be a tragedy,” he said.

“We Love Dairy Queen”

It’s not all negative. Dairy Queen has plenty of supporters. There are those who believe the anger over the traffic situation is overblown.

“The DQ has been in that location longer than some of you have been alive. Get in line and enjoy it,” said Gail Tooke on a popular Cheyenne Facebook page.

Donny Terson told Cowboy State Daily that he and his family “love Dairy Queen” and the negativity should be directed at bad drivers, not anything else.

“People just need to go the speed limit and merge when the traffic is backed-up,” he said. “How difficult is that? Buy a blizzard and enjoy summer.”

The Neighbors

Then there are the neighbors of the Dairy Queen — an elderly couple who has lived in the house for 52 years.

They moved in before there was a Dairy Queen.

Their daughter, Lynn Dolwick, told Cowboy State Daily that the restaurant has always been a big draw but since COVID, the amount of traffic has been “dangerous.”

“You know, it’s scary when you’re coming down Pershing and you see the back ends of cars sitting out in the middle of the street,” Dolwick said.

“People swerving around them and other times they don’t see the cars until it’s almost too late,” she said. “It’s really dangerous.”

Dolwick said she was emphatic with the owners because there’s little they can do. Plus, they’ve been good to her parents.

“Dairy Queen has great employees and food and they have been accommodating to my parents since their illnesses,” she said.

Rants and Raves

The restaurant is a hot topic on the Cheyenne Rants and Raves Facebook page. Recently, a meme was posted reminding drivers that Pershing Boulevard was a street, not a Dairy Queen parking lot.

The post went viral and featured, like many similar posts, anger, insults, and ad hominem attacks.



Part two of this series, featuring interviews with the Dairy Queen co-owner and the Cheyenne Police Department, will be published on Tuesday, June 7.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Blowing Snow, Low Temps Lead to Multiple Accidents, Closures Along I-80

in News/weather
15703

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Gusty winds, cold temperatures and blowing snow led to multiple accidents and closures across southern Wyoming on Friday as motorists on Interstate 80 waited out the weather as a winter storm gusted through the state’s southwestern corner.

In the 24 hours between noon Thursday and noon Friday, the Wyoming Highway Patrol reported 91 weather-related accidents between Rawlins and the Utah state line alone, according to Sgt. Jeremy Beck, WHP public relations spokesperson.

To his knowledge, Beck said none of the accidents involved any fatalities.

Closures

As of Friday afternoon, all of the eastbound lanes of 1-80 between Evanston and Cheyenne were on rolling closures with an estimated opening time of 19 to 21 hours.

All lanes in both directions of the interstate between Rawlins and Laramie were closed Friday afternoon, with drivers being diverted to hotels, truck stops and businesses in neighboring cities.

The purpose behind implementing rolling closures is to ease the burden of stopped traffic on cities and towns along the 1-80 corridor.

The technique allows stranded drivers to get to the next location for greater access to the parking, fuel, hotel, restaurants and other services when a particular town hits peaks capacity.

The rolling closures were effective Friday, said Jordan Achs, WYDOT senior public affairs specialist, who added feedback so far has been positive.

“We don’t want people to be stuck without a place to stay or be without resources during long- duration closures,” she said.

WYDOT and Wyoming Highway Patrol work together to reach out to the hotels and businesses in these towns and cities to monitor resources. Friday’s storm was pretty localized, Achs noted, with a heavy amount of fallen snow being blown by heavy winds at higher elevations.

Gusts between Laramie and Rawlins were measured at 70 mph.

Over the past day, the southern border has received 5 to 10 inches of snow with some spots getting as much as 13 inches, according to meteorologist Don Day. 

Despite the weather conditions, some drivers had blown past the snow gates closing the interstate and gotten stuck.

Achs didn’t know how many vehicles had done so, but she did say rescuing the vehicles and getting the drivers to safety has diverted resources from other tasks.

She added that ignoring a snow gate comes with a $750 fine.

“It can be frustrating to commercial truck drivers,” she said. “But these closures are for their health and safety.”

Waiting it out

Mark Telkamp wasn’t expecting to go anywhere too soon Friday afternoon. 

The jet fuel truck driver for MG Oil/Heartland was parked at the Love’s Travel Stop in Green River and settling in for a long wait while WYDOT snowplow drivers work on clearing 1-80.

This was his second stop of the day. He had been parked down the road at Rock Springs for the 13 hours waiting out the storm and made it about 45 miles before he was stopped due to interstate closures.

It’s just part of the job, Telkamp said. He’s been trucking in Wyoming for the past 25 years and being shut down by weather is par for the course. 

“I feel resigned,” he said, “but it doesn’t mean it’s fun.”

Mind the plows

A reported 15% shortage of snow plow drivers this year was having no impact on the department’s work on Friday, Achs said.

She added since the storm is limited to the state’s southwestern corner, the department is having no trouble meeting staffing needs with available workers.

In the case of significant snow events, the department will move resources to areas most affected.

That said, snow plows in general have had a rough couple of years, with with more hit by drivers in the past two years that at any other time in the department’s history, Achs said. She didn’t have numbers readily available but she did  encourage drivers to stay back and give snowplows room to work.

“Sometimes plows can create their own whiteouts,” she said. “Please give them space to do their job.”

Up-to-date road closures can be found on WYDOT

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top