Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Travel Offers Reminder of 12th and Mill's Difficulty

Holiday trips to the train station and bike rides past Mission Mill for the holiday lights have reminded me how lousy is the crossing at 12th and Mill.

You might remember the City's plan for the crossing.

It's complicated, of course, by the train tracks. On 12th, the right-of-way width also makes a median more convenient on the south side of the intersection. But most crossing takes place on the north side.

Plans to finish the 12th Street Promenade and add a pedestrian median to 12th are dormant at the moment. The City has tried to fund it, but it never seems to come together. Grantors, for example, haven't found the plan competitive, and the City has declined to fund it straight-up, preferring to build out auto capacity.

But crossing 12th street here is very difficult, and Willamette University and Tokyo International University of America together funded and built a private footbridge across 12th street. Initially the bridge was open, but vandalism and theft led the universities to close the bridge to the public. Crime diminished by 90%. It's hard to argue with that!

Nonetheless, the crossing remains difficult for the public, and the bridge is not very bike friendly.

In fact, in a 2002 Strategic Master Plan, Willamette identified it as a key east-west corridor:
Many pedestrians still find it necessary to cross Twelfth Street at grade to reach the eastward continuation of Mill Street, across the rail tracks, and into the neighborhood beyond. With plans for a tennis center west of 14th Street on Mill, more pedestrians will want to cross Twelfth Street...Safe and convenient access across Twelfth Street at Mill will help to reconnect what is now a rather isolated area around TIUA.
Interestingly, in the current 2008 Master Plan, connectivity at this intersection is not as urgently discussed. If nothing else, Bush School was built rather than the tennis center, and this might be seen to diminish the walking demand. Maybe there's more to learn about this, but for the moment it's interesting to see the crossing called out in the 2002 master plan.

And there's still a need for it.

The crossing is difficult for lots of people, not just Willamette staff and students, and it's not surprising the City's proposed Bike Plan identifies the intersection as an important "tier 1" intersection improvement.

(Both the 2008 and 2002 plans are interesting, and there might be more to say on them.)

1 comment:

Curt said...

The bridge really doesn't serve Mill St. well at all. It drops into TUIA about a block to the south of Mill St. Even if it were open to the public, people would still cross at street level. I doubt that the lack of emphasis on it in the most recent WU Master Plan was deliberate. This is a legal crosswalk on a busy arterial and the city needs to treat it accordingly.