Tuesday, February 02, 2016

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

Previously: Part 1: 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 changes in store for Spring Street (between Silver and Vincennes), looking west at the intersection of Spring and Thomas. Below is what Jeff Speck proposed in his study for this corridor.

As noted in Part 1, Tuesday's (February 2) Board of Works conversation represented the first (and to date only) public airing of the details of this latest Spring Street "improvement" plan as it pertains to the Beharrel to Vincennes corridor. It came up in the newspaper last Friday.

Because this "safety for cars" planning began in 2010, and the Speck study was not finished until very late in 2014, Wes Christmas of Clark Dietz could only acknowledge to me his firm's awareness of Speck's general research, while maintaining the overall objective of phrasing the work currently proposed in purely auto-centric terms -- since, after all, the 90-10 federal match depends on using the right language.

Lane widths: Although four lanes shrink to three with turn lanes at Thomas, City Hall cannot bring itself to cut the flab all the way down to ten feet. The lanes will be eleven feet.

Parking: Apart from the Thomas intersection, there will be on-street parking for this segment.

Walkers: As the Clark Dietz drawing illustrates, no crosswalk access is projected for these blocks between Silver and Vincennes. Recalling that the speed limit is to remain unchanged, with city engineer Larry Summers suggesting that design will lower speeds so as to make life better for pedestrians, it remains that no specific point was made on Tuesday to offer an engineering solution for people wishing to cross Spring Street, from one side to the other, from Beharrel to Vincennes, except at Silver -- and City Hall insists this plan is a boon for walkers.

Bicycle lanes: With regard to bicycle lanes, we now understand what councilman Greg Phipps and ESNA president Greg Roberts were referring to when, on Sunday during a Fb conversation, Roberts wrote these words:

After reviewing the Speck plan again, this project is following his recommendations almost to the letter, except for having both bike plans on one side. the unveiled plan shows one bike lane on each side. I think Greg is fighting for his district with a new rental registration proposed ordinance, two way streets project, getting street lamps fixed, housing, etc... In my opinion, some of Speck's study was over kill on the bike lanes!!

Yes, it appears that City Hall was spooked by Speck; specifically, Speck's proposal of an innovative and integrity-laced two-way cycle facility on one side of the street, buffered by parked cars, as opposed to the more conventional integrated lane approach (see below for Speck's explanations of both).

A digression: During public speaking time at Tuesday's BOW meeting, I requested an explanation of the "environmental study" letter being circulated to property owners on Market, Spring and Elm.

RQAW's letter to property owners: The "street improvements" project that dare not speak its name.

John Rosenbarger, wizard of all planning, was called to explain. He publicly agreed with my assertion that it stands to confuse people to refer to a project (New Albany Downtown Street Improvements) that as yet remains in mysterious backroom planning stages, cannot be researched on-line, and which city officials tend to refer to only in vague terms of double-speak.

Rosenbarger said something else publicly, which is cataclysmic by New Gahania's down-low standards: The New Albany Downtown Street Improvements euphemism does refer to one- to two-way street reversions. 

It's on the record ... unless it's already been erased, and we've always been at war with Oceania. I felt like I'd cracked the code. Do I get a medal ... or a plaque?

If I am misinterpreting anything herein, please, someone, correct me.

Prognosis: It's better than the de facto interstate that will, as yet, be maintained from Beharrel to Silver. It is impossible to predict what will happen on those streets now one-way, when (if) they're reverted to two-way traffic. My guess would be the least innovative bastardization of Speck possible, if that. It's how New Gahania rolls.

The quoted cost of the auto-centric project from Beharrel to Vincennes is somewhere around $650,000 (90-10 split, with the feds bearing the 90). To restore the remainder of the street grid to ruddy two-way health, and once the inevitable campaign contributions are factored into the mix ... folks, we're looking at millions.

Best hope that water slide makes lots of money this summer. Trust me: They'll find a way to screw this up.

Following is what Speck says (page 62-64 of his study):


Current Condition
This next segment of Spring Street also consists of four lanes in a roadway that is over 50 feet wide. This segment carries considerably less traffic, with daily counts in the 16,000 to 18,000 range. It also presents less motivation for left-hand turns, with only Thomas Street serving a significant network (grid) function. Cars often travel at excessive speeds along this segment’s wide driving lanes.

The same 3-lane road-diet section can be provided here, but the small demand for left-hand turn motions suggests that the center lane need only be provided at Silver, Thomas, and Vincennes Streets, and can be eliminated elsewhere. Eliminating this facility where it is not needed provides additional space in the roadway that can be dedicated to other use, and here it makes sense to introduce a cycle facility that reaches into downtown.

The roadway’s 50-foot width can amply hold two travel lanes, two parking lanes, and a two-way cycle facility. At the intersections noted above, one parking lane would drop away in order to provide space for a center turn lane. It is essential that this turn lane not be any longer than needed. It is anticipated that a combined storage area and lane chamfer of 80 feet will be sufficient.

The cycle facility could take two different forms. As already discussed, protected cycle tracks have been demonstrated to provide the greatest safety and encouragement to cyclists while also improving the driving experience. Because of their success and popularity in the dozens of states in which they have been tested, it is recommended that one significant-length cycle track be introduced to New Albany, and Spring Street provides the ideal corridor.

Such a cycle track earns its “protected status by being located principally between the curb and parked cars. One flank of curb parking is pulled off the curb, in order to create this corridor, and a small striped buffer separates bicyclists from opening car doors. At corners, the parked cars drop away in order to improve cyclists’ visibility.

However, if there is community resistance to this facility, a more conventional solution of two integrated cycle lanes, similar to the current condition west of Vincennes, could be applied instead to this two-way segment. To welcome bikes and encourage slower driving speeds, driving lanes should be 10 feet wide rather than 12, so that bike lanes may be 6 feet wide rather than 5. This extra foot is important to cyclists, who are squeezed between moving traffic on one side and car doors on the other.

From Silver to Vincennes, restripe Spring Street to one of the following configurations:

Cycle Track Solution:Place an 8-foot two-way cycle track against the south curb, with a 6-foot striped buffer separating it from a 36-foot roadway containing two 10-foot travel lanes flanked by two 8-foot parking lanes (striped). At Silver, Thomas, and Vincennes, provide 10-foot left-hand turn lanes by eliminating one flank of parallel parking and narrowing the buffer to 4 feet. The left-hand turn lane facility should be no longer than needed, ideally 80 feet or less total, including chamfer.

Integrated Lane Solution: Reconfigure the roadway to include two 11-foot driving lanes flanked by two 6-foot cycle lanes and two 8-foot parking lanes. At Silver, Thomas, and Vincennes, provide 10-foot left-hand turn lanes by eliminating one flank of parallel parking and narrowing the travel lanes to 10 feet. The left-hand turn lane facility should be no longer than needed, ideally 80 feet or less total, including chamfer.

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