Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Bud Lighting of Jeff Speck (1): The Rosenbarger Automotive Enhancement Plan for Spring, from Beharrel to Silver.

Above is the Clark Dietz rendering of the primarily auto-centric changes in store for Spring Street, looking east at the Silver Street intersection. Below is what Jeff Speck proposed in his study

See also: The Bud Lighting of Jeff Speck (2): Silver to Vincennes, as we survey the Rosenbarger Automotive Enhancement Plan for Spring Street.

I'm going to tackle an overview of the Clark Dietz plan for Spring Street between Beharrel and Vincennes, as mentioned in the newspaper last Friday. These "improvements" have been in the works since 2010, and were revealed for the first time publicly at Tuesday's (February 2) Board of Works meeting.

With all in attendance hiding in terror from Jeff Speck, as is their conspicuous habit, afterward I spoke with Wes Christmas of Clark Dietz. He told me that while his firm has been aware of Jeff Speck's recommendations, the specific mandate for "improvements" along this stretch derives from the reduction of automobile accident rates; specifically, adding left-hand turn lanes for cars.

He conceded vague compatibility with certain aspects of Speck's recommendations, but said it hardly could be termed a blueprint. Again, the talking point: This is about cars. There will be no change in speed limits. The Beharrel to Silver segment's lane widths appear to be narrowing only at the intersection with Silver, although this was not made clear. If I misinterpret anything, I hope to receive corrections and will amend this account accordingly.

Beharrel to Silver.

Speck says:

So much for that.

Because city officials reckon Providence Way must remain connected with Spring Street, in large measure there will be no changes to the street between Beharrel and Silver.

Speck had proposed the introduction of a 3-lane configuration for this segment with parking on both sides, and the addition of some crosswalks. In the Clark Dietz plan, there will be no on-street parking here, no crosswalks, and no bike lanes.

About those bike lanes: Presumably city officials (John Rosenbarger, Larry Summers) always have excluded the possibility of bicycle lanes from the Beharrel-Silver segment, and even Speck did not include them. Neither does Clark Dietz. Rather, city planners want to connect bicyclists to Spring Street via currently incomplete (and occasionally laughable) "bike lanes" on Silver, both north and south of Spring.

At the BOW meeting, Summers referred to connecting Spring via Silver with "bike lanes on Charlestown Road," these being periodic segments connected to nothing. When I mentioned this, Larry insisted that the only way for New Albany to proceed is to build isolated biking segments when possible, and hope to connect them later. If I am exaggerating his statement, I hope he corrects me.

Stray note: BOW president Warren Nash asked Christmas to explain the westbound turn lane set-back (see photo). Christmas explained that it is there for trucks coming from Silver Street, and going eastbound on Spring, to have sufficient room to maneuver. Or, reassurance to the instigators of the lawsuit.

Prognosis: On the Beharrel to Silver stretch, it will remain all about cars. Pity the poor people living along this expanse of Spring Street. They get ... nothing, and their property values -- well, we needn't be gratuitous. The outlook is somewhat better in the second area of "improvement," from Silver to Vincennes, coming in the second part.

Following is what Speck says (page 60-61 of his study):


Current Condition
The two-way eastern segment of Spring Street consists of four lanes in a roadway that is over 50 feet wide. This segment carries significant traffic volumes, with daily counts just below 23,000 cars between Silver and Beharrel.

Transitioning to highway conditions to and from the Ohio River Scenic Byway, cars often travel at excessive speeds along this segment’s wide driving lanes, and crossing the street feels treacherous.
In this four-block stretch, only one crosswalk is present, at Beharrel Avenue.

In this configuration, Spring Street corresponds exactly with the “before” image of what has become known as the “Classic 4-to-3 Road Diet.” Already described under The Proper Number of Driving Lanes, the road diet replaces two driving lanes with one center turn lane, dramatically improving safety while having no negative impact on traffic volume.

Eliminating a driving lane and narrowing the remaining lanes allows for 8-foot parking lanes to be striped on both sides of the street. Whether or not the enfronting houses make regular use of this parking, the introduction of a 3-lane configuration will result in a street that is considerably safer, with no sacrifice in capacity. Left-hand turns into businesses will be able to be made without the fear of being hit from behind in the fast lane.

On a street section such as this, where the on-street parking may be little used during parts of the day, the actual striping (rather than simply signing) of the parking spaces becomes an important delineator of the appropriate travel lane. The transition from four lanes to three can be accomplished by having the righthand westbound lane become right-only approaching Woodrow Avenue.

Additional danger can be removed by eliminating the intersection of Providence Way and Spring Street, instead requiring westbound traffic on Providence to turn north onto Beharrel.

While the introduction of a crosswalk in this segment, without a corresponding signal, might encourage unsafe behavior, pedestrian safety can be enhanced by inserting a refuge island in the center lane about midway between Beharrel and Silver, at Cost Avenue.

(Incidentally, and not addressed elsewhere in this report, the short segment of Cost Avenue north of Spring Street should be considered for two-way reversion once Spring Street is calmed by the road diet recommended here.)

Please see the Appendix for an analysis of the Spring/Silver intersection. While a right-hand turn lane is not encouraged at the westbound approach to Silver—and produces only marginal improvement to flow—such a facility can be introduced by slightly narrowing the driving lanes and eliminating the north-flank parking lane. If introduced, this turn lane should be limited in length, since it encourages speeding.

From Beharrel to Silver, restripe Spring Street to two 10-foot driving lanes surrounding a 12-foot center turn lane and flanked by two striped 9-foot parking lanes. (Require the northern westbound lane to turn right onto Woodrow.) If right-hand turns cause congestion at Silver Street, insert a short westbound right-hand turn lane by eliminating the northern flank of parking and restriping the driving lanes slightly narrower, while maintaining the parking on the south flank. (The resulting street section will approximate: 11 turn – 10 drive – 11 turn – 10 drive – 9 park.) Insert a pedestrian refuge in the center lane at Cost Avenue.

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