Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you with the alarming headline, but the traffic-calming project that was proposed for Lake Avenue (at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery) is dead. I received word yesterday from a friend in Charlotte that Mayor Lovely Warren has ordered City engineers to kill the planned lane reduction. Warren caved in to pressure from Charlotte residents & merchants who feared the lane reduction would cause traffic jams and hurt businesses in Charlotte.
In addition to reconstructing the 1 mile section of Lake Avenue, the plan would have reduced the lanes from four to three – with one lane in each direction plus a center turn lane. Why would the City take away traffic lanes?! Relax, you don’t have to worry about it anymore…
What? You’re still reading this? If you were opposed to the road diet and you’re looking for me to say APRIL FOOLS or something, it’s not going to happen. Lake Ave will be keeping all of it’s auto lanes. You won.
Seriously. You can stop reading now.
Boy that was awkward. Okay, now that we’re all alone, here’s why I am still in favor of the 4 to 3 lane reduction…
- This road has too much capacity for the level of traffic today. Don’t believe me? Read the traffic study Or better yet, go for a drive on it. When Kodak was still the 800 pound guerilla in the neighborhood, four lanes were probably necessary. But not anymore. Now all of that extra asphalt and the maintenance that goes with it is simply costing taxpayers.
- The extra road capacity also means that drivers feel comfortable enough to speed. According to the City’s own study, auto speeds currently reach and exceed 48 mph along this stretch. That’s not safe for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or their passengers. Reducing the number of auto lanes is the only truly effective way to reduce those speeds. You can plant street trees or post signs… you can even put a traffic cop out there once in a while. But those things will cost more money… and in the long run they won’t compare to the road diet.
- The impact to traffic would be minimal, if any. This is primarily because left turn lanes would be added. Get the left turning vehicles out of the way, and traffic moves right along. Also, pull-off areas would be provided for RTS buses. Again, no buses in the right lane to slow traffic. For these reasons, a 3-lane road can handle the same amount of traffic as a 4-lane road (and in some cases it can handle more traffic). This isn’t speculation. It’s been done and proven. You needn’t look further than Dewey Ave. or Seabreeze Drive. Did the businesses at Seabreeze suffer after 590 was reduced? Nope. I know this because I spoke to them last week.
- The City’s traffic analysis also found the most common types of accidents along this stretch were passing and rear-end crashes. These accidents could be mitigated with the three-lane system, precisely for the reasons stated above. When a car stops in a moving traffic lane to turn left it causes congestion, blind spots, unsafe lane changes, and changes in vehicle speeds. By adding a left turn lane and removing turning vehicles from the equation, a safer roadway is created.
- By reducing the roadway from four lanes to two, space would be freed up for bicycle lanes. Currently cyclists must ride in automobile traffic or on the sidewalk. Hopefully the project engineers can figure out a way to keep the bike lanes. But because there’s only so much space, this will require some creative engineering. And we all know creativity adds cost.
- Last, but definitely not least… The lane reduction would have made it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the street. Not only would you have a shorter distance from curb to curb, but also a center median/island to use as shelter. You could cross one lane, take a breather, and then cross the other lane. Ever try to cross four lanes of moving traffic with no signal? It’s not fun. This is especially worrisome for the residents of St. Bernards Park Apartments. These people are all 55 and older, and many of them rely on the bus stop across the street. Sorry guys. We tried.
About the money…
One of the most popular complaints I heard about the road diet was that the project was going to cost $30 Million. In reality, the construction budget is under $5.9 Million. That is fairly typical when a road is rebuilt. So now we’ll pay the same $5.9 Million, plus more in the long run because we’ll have to maintain four lanes that we don’t really need.
What about emergency vehicles?
Another myth that was spread around was that emergency vehicles would be not be able to get through if the lanes were reduced. Upon inspection of the plans , you will see the width of the roadway would still be wide enough for two vehicles side by side. Let’s do the math… 11′ automobile lane + 5′ bike lane + a few extra inches between the yellow line and the median = 16.5″ …that’s enough space for two firetrucks to pass each other. And even if that’s not enough width, the center median would have mountable curbs. Those are low profile curbs with a 45 degree bevel – so that vehicles can literally drive up on the median if they needed to.
You can still voice your support for safer streets
Now is as good a time as any to remind your mayor and city council representatives that vibrant neighborhoods require walkable streets. Give them a call or send a friendly email. Let them know you support the 4-3 road diet and the good work our City traffic engineers have been doing…
Mayor Lovely Warren
Carla M. Palumbo, Northwest District
Adam McFadden, South District
Elaine M. Spaull, East District
Michael A. Patterson, Northeast District
Tags: Charlotte, City of Rochester, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Joe Robach, Lake Avenue, Lake Avenue Improvement Project, petition, Rich Koss, Riverside Cemetery, Senator Joseph Robach, St. Bernard's Park
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 at 10:44 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.