Monday, August 9, 2021

Three Crossings: Fairgrounds Road at Norway, Jones at Judson School, Pringle and Copper Glen

One of the important projects completed last year for the Winter-Maple Greenway was an enhanced crossing on Fairgrounds Road at Norway.

Two major reductions in the scope
(Drawings from March 2018, red comments added)

Previous drawings from 2018 had shown a lot of concrete, and since the project funding bundled it with four other crossings, and it also appeared to remove parking for a business operated by a new City Councilor, it seemed like a strong candidate for "value engineering." (See previous notes here, here, and here.)

$586,300 was not enough (April 2019)

Indeed, the as-built conditions show a shorter, more compact median refuge in Fairgrounds Road, and the second proposed median in Norway was completely deleted, saving the parking strip for the business.

Median refuge looking southwest, much shorter

Tu Casa parking strip on Norway retained

I had been prepared to find any reductions problematic, but I do not think the reductions here are in fact very problematic.

Instead of "reduction," a better overall frame might be that the drawings from 2018 were over-engineered and that the reductions in the as-built conditions mostly make sense. It might be a non-BS instance of "right-sizing."

I don't think the deletion of the Norway median reduces safety for the crossing. But reducing the total length of the median on Fairgrounds Road might be a little bit of a compromise. Drivers zoom there, and the longer median might give more safety for people in the median and calm traffic even more. But maybe not a great deal more. That also does not seem terribly important in the end.

Altogether this is nice to see finally.

Two Other Crossings

Five Crossing Safety Projects
Project estimate grew to $566,220
See early notes, August 2016
The final number was $586,300

Two other crossings in that funding bundle were on the other side of town. One does not seem very remarkable, but the other was also changed, though not necessarily "value engineered," and it seems worth more remark.

One crossing is on Jones Road at Judson Middle School. It has ADA ramps with bump pads, and new signs. No flashing beacon or refuge island or raised speed table. It's minimalist rather than maximalist. But maybe it didn't need to be more.

New crosswalk at Judson

The City changed the location of the other. It was first going to be near Suntree Drive on Pringle Road near Leslie Middle School. It is that in a broad sense, just as the Norway crossing is also near Cottage, but it seems to be a real revision and not just adjustment in location.

Suntree (grey pin) and Copper Glen (red pin)

It was relocated to the ball field and playground in the little creek valley at the intersection with Copper Glen Drive.

The crosswalk and refuge at Copper Glen Drive

And up close, ball fields in back

With Mandy Avenue, Copper Glen "drains" a lot of the neighborhood, and that location offers a direct connection to the play fields. There are strong reasons for locating it there.

Existing one at Tiburon Court, right at the school

But it's also not very far from the existing crosswalk at Tiburon Court, and a new one at Suntree might have offered better spacing on Pringle Road.

Moreover, on the curve where Battle Creek turns into Pringle Road, cars zoom and cross over into the bike lanes often. It's signed for 40mph, and that's really not appropriate any more (if it ever was).

Cars zoom on Battle Creek

The white BMW's driver crossed over into bike lane

There is a need for traffic calming on the approach to the school, not just at the school. 

Additionally, Fairview Addition will fill in, the Grove Apartment Complex is starting phase two, and at some unknown time the upper portion of Fairview along Battle Creek Road will be developed. We really need to transform Battle Creek from a zoomy rural/suburban minor arterial posted for 40mph to a more urban neighborhood street with a slower posted and design speed, even if Battle Creek Road and Pringle Road are still considered minor arterials.

Fairview Addition, sidewalk both end

Until the sidewalk is built on the east side of Battle Creek it may not be possible to locate a crosswalk on a street like Sunland, but that's closer to where the calming is needed.

In siting the crosswalk at Copper Glen rather than Suntree, the City may have served a larger number of students. But the minor arterial is still too zoomy, and the City may have passed on a greater calming effect for that stretch of the road.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

A footnote on speed limit signs near Fairview:

This stretch of Battle Creek and Pringle Roads has a non-intuitive set of speed zone designations. The white sign general speed limit is for 40mph on most segments. But there are several yellow signs with "advisory speed" reductions, especially northbound.

Heading north, between Kuebler Boulevard and Reed Road, Battle Creek is signed for 40mph. Immdiately north of Reed Road there is no change.

At Gladmar there is a "restricted sight distance" and an advisory reduction to 25mph.

Then, on the approach to the curve into Pringle Road it has an advisory posting for 35mph. (Is this an increase from 25mph or a decrease from 40mph?)

Just north of Strong Road it is reduced to 30mph (with an intermittent school zone of 20mph).

In the other direction, heading south, just south of Copper Glen (after the 30/20 school zone) it's posted for 40mph for the whole stretch to Kuebler, and I don't think there are any advisory reductions in that direction.

That's why I say the primary speed is 40mph, and most people seem to use that as the baseline; at least whenever I am walking or biking there, that's what I see. The yellow sign reductions are treated as very optional, and presumably the 85th percentile speed is higher than 40mph. To get a speeding ticket here, you'd have to be going 51mph, nearly highway speed.