With county traffic counts continuing to increase, Teton County commissioners needed to hit the accelerator on the Tribal Trail Connector.

Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday to move the road concept forward, approving further study of two intersection alternatives with Highway 22.

Nearly 40 years after the link was identified in a county transportation study as a link between South Park and Wilson, it took political fortitude to maintain momentum in the face of predictable opposition by county residents who will see increased traffic through their formerly tranquil neighborhoods.

Yes, when the connector is eventually built — there is no time estimate for its completion — traffic will begin to flow, but the design of the roadway can mitigate some of neighbors’ concerns.

Forming a stakeholder group to help guide the discussion was the right approach. The group rightfully wrestled to create alternatives and recommend the best solution or blend therein. At the last minute, stakeholders suggested a different alternative: no action until the project could be examined with WYDOT’s future planning for the highway. Planning in tandem is a great concept, but given the way WYDOT’s projects are funded, that could delay another decade, and officials declined the idea.

Since the need for the connector and the space to construct it was identified back in 1982, surprise should not be an argument.

As cars eventually are able to use the connector, traffic modeling software shows congestion and pressure around the “Y” intersection at Highways 22 and 89 will ease.

Maintaining a pathway along this route and along 22 must be integrated into the plans, keeping the option for people who want to stay out of their cars.

Now the last piece of the puzzle remains: which option to focus discussion and energy on. The News&Guide-dubbed Option A leads the pack by offering the best uninterrupted flow of traffic, preventing a stoplight and minimizing cost to county taxpayers.

In the months and years ahead, WYDOT officials will have to determine available funding and how the project fits into other statewide and county road plans.

This editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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