Editor’s Note: If you were at the meeting last week, I encourage you to add details or observations I missed here.
Last Wednesday, November 10th, a small group of citizens met with City staff, area transportation agencies and the consulting firm URS to see the latest step in the process of the Division St. initiative. It’s been awhile since any news had surfaced about the project due while we waited for the traffic modeling requested by the City commission. Basically, there were some on the commission, and in the community, that needed to see that different roundabout schemes would indeed move motorized vehicles; modeling was also recommended by the engineers.
The simple answer, that I understood, is yes. Each scenario modeled will move motorized traffic equal to, or better, than what is taking place for the foreseeable future; some better than others. How we, as a community, define better is the key question. The engineers have provided some results to help us make those choices and, with most things, there is no clear answer.
The modeling that presented last week provides data and visuals for the auto-centric concerns: “trucks”, “back-ups” and “ability to turn.” Other issues falling under Safety, Context, Quality and Access still need further attention and means to measure them. It’s instructive to return to the following graphic for a reminder of the project’s “Purpose and Need.”
Steadily Moving Forward
The community has asked for Division St. to no longer be a divide between the west and east side. We also want to improve quality of life for the residents who live along the corridor and the improve vitality of the businesses that do and will exist along the corridor. Yes, it’s a state trunkline, but it also needs to work in the context of the neighborhood it is in.
My position has been clear. We have a compromise solution on the table and no other. That’s not to say we couldn’t come up with one, but we haven’t fully followed through with the roundabout plan and status quo is not acceptable. Last week’s meeting needs to be seen in the context of a meticulous process of different agencies and different concerns that are both expected and necessary. Some of that is institutional and needs to start as soon as possible. The recommendation last week was for the City to consider starting with one roundabout. Proposed intersections were either: 14th, 11th or Front St. Emphasizes being made that by choosing to begin with one, the community is still at the very beginning of the process. It was also suggested that perhaps the City begins introducing them in less contested places, but I don’t think that excludes moving forward here. (check back for a few suggestions on other locations).
For the majority of us, that means asking ourselves some difficult questions. How invested in altering the status of this corridor are we? What is the information that will help us contribute to the discussion? How can we help facilitate the process?
How do you want Division St. to look, function, feel?
I wish I had more doable items to share. I can say, that this project will need consistent and diverse citizen input to keep it on the City’s agenda. A big role we have is do just that. We don’t need to be traffic experts or know the ins-and-outs of traffic modeling to know that we want to see respectful, transparent and committed progress towards a better city. A question I will be asking is, “What is the process?“
Please, create a list of questions you have. Share them here. Share them with neighbors. Share them with city staff and city commissioners. If you want to be more involved with the city’s loosely knit steering group, email the city planner and city manager and asked to be put on the Division Street Initiative/Roundabout contact list. I expect a discussion meeting in the near future.
MyWHaT will keep you posted as best as possible.
NOTE: If any of you would like to meet with me to discuss the issue, please do not hesitate to ask. Send me an email and let’s meet for coffee.