Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Even the Manliest of Men want Enhanced Crosswalks! Proposed Crossing on 22nd for City Shops

A reader who has been following the budget process more closely has found a new crosswalk project - a bit of a stealth project, actually - that hasn't been talked about in current transportation planning processes. It is a little odd in a couple of ways and deserves more comment.

from the proposed 2017-18 budget
The City is proposing $285,000 for "Design, right-of-way / easement acquisition and construction of a pedestrian crossing median on 22nd St NE [sic] at the City Shops Complex."

22nd Street SE at City Shops
That's right here or very near here. You can the diamond "walking man" sign.

In order to highlight something, I want to trade for a moment on a crude stereotype. Most of the folks at the shops are probably still very manly men, and it is interesting that they find difficult crossing a two lane street here.

But if even the manly men are having troubles - and this is not to disparage the experience of the manliest of men, but rather to underscore how vulnerable we all are, that any and all humans can be crushed by an automobile - why then do we lag behind on facilities for children or higher volume sites than the City shops? Isn't this evidence that we need to put more resources generally into traffic calming and enhanced crosswalks citywide?

Also: Is there a speeding problem on 22nd? Is the problem instead with vehicle operators? Maybe speed tables would solve the problem? Maybe there are system problems here that a crosswalk seeks to evade.

And why should a crosswalk cost so much? $285,000 is quite on the expensive side. The five safety crossings near schools and on the Winter-Maple bikeway is budgeted for $566,200. New crosswalks ODOT is doing on Wallace Road are also going in for less. The cost here looks on the surface to be a factor between 3x and 5x the cost of a more routine median and crossing. So that needs more detail.

22nd Street is not a Tier 1 priority,
nor is there a crossing identified at shops
(Walking chapter, Transportation System Plan)
Finally, as as far as process and prioritizing goes, it seems like this project has slipped in quietly ahead of others that might have a greater claim to priority or urgency. It is not listed in the TSP, I don't think. Maybe SESNA has requested it, but I don't remember seeing anything on it in the neighborhood association minutes over the past year or two. When WESD wanted a similar crosswalk and median on the 2600 block of Pringle Road SE, that went to Council as a separate item first. This appears to be buried a little in the budget process.

For several reasons, before the Budget Committee and Council approve this project, it deserves more public discussion.

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