Cody Superintendent: "We Can't Do Nothing" on Big Horn Ave

Cody Superintendent: “We Can’t Do Nothing” on Big Horn Ave

Written by on January 19, 2021

After a student narrowly avoids an accident while crossing the road, Cody Superintendent Peg Monteith says this won’t be the last time – action must be taken.

Peg Monteith has served as superintendent of Park County School District #6 for almost a year, but the debate over a safer crossing at Big Horn Avenue (a four-lane Wyoming highway) and Freedom Street (the location of Cody Middle School) is one that began long before her time at the helm of Cody’s schools.

“There has been an effort for quite some time,” Monteith says. “Two building principals ago. Probably close to a decade, if not more. Not only the district but the trustees have been working with the city and WYDOT and just haven’t been able to get any movement to get a crosswalk in there. There’s just no designated crosswalk for those kids.”

The problem has only loomed larger in recent years. Monteith cites the growing number of families moving into housing subdivisions around Big Horn Avenue, to the north and east of Cody. That means more kids trying to cross Big Horn Avenue to get to Cody Middle School – and potentially many more as the years progress.

Bus routes do exist in these subdivisions, but the school is within easy walking or biking distance. Many kids will choose to walk and cross the four-lane highway.

“I don’t know how you can put a cost on safety and the life of a child,” says Superintendent Monteith.

Last Thursday’s near-miss is a sobering reminder of the risks these kids face every day. A student received a “glancing blow” from a semi-truck traveling down Big Horn Avenue. Luckily, they only received minor injuries from the encounter.

While Monteith didn’t witness the event, she reviewed footage taken from a nearby security camera. The experience was “disturbing to watch.”

“We can’t just continue to do nothing about it, and this was a great example of why,” she says. “We’re fortunate we didn’t have a life lost. It could’ve been much worse. With budget cuts across the state, I know WYDOT has had some cuts as well. I am concerned that we continue to have kids in harm’s way, and I don’t know how you can put a cost on safety and the life of a child. This can’t continue to just be a matter of funding or not being able to come up with a viable solution.”

“I just am not okay with that. We’ve got to do something.”

When asked about a possible solution to the Big Horn Avenue problem, Monteith cites a practical example: the flashing pedestrian crossing at Sheridan Avenue and 10th Street for Cody High School. While she admits it not the best possible option, it at least alerts drivers when people are crossing.

Monteith also cites the speed limit at the intersection of Big Horn Avenue and Freedom Street. The speed limit changes from 35 to 45 miles per hour at that point, as it is a Wyoming highway. Vehicles are speeding up and slowing down close to the same spots where kids are crossing.

Rumors of a pedestrian bridge over the highway for students to use are unfounded.

The district and Cody community aren’t asking for everything – just something.

Park County School District #6 has requested a meeting with the City of Cody and WYDOT to again address the Big Horn Avenue issue. Monteith hopes that more parents will raise their voices in support of changes, as that may bring a solution to the table.

Regardless, Superintendent Monteith is adamant: something must be done.  She knows this isn’t the first incident of its kind to occur on Big Horn Avenue – and it won’t be the last.

“I won’t be the last time something like this happens. If we have nothing in place, what does that say about us – that we aren’t even willing to try something? I just don’t think we can let this continue to happen,” she says.

Intersection of Big Horn Avenue and Freedom Street near Cody Middle School

Courtesy Mac Morey

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