Home > Editorial > The Pros/Cons Of The Boardman Lake Avenue Road Project

The Pros/Cons Of The Boardman Lake Avenue Road Project

Updated 11:18 for clarity.

Below is a condensed list of reasons to & not to build the West Boardman Lake Avenue.

It’s not a complete list and I avoid some of the more philosophical, nuanced and promised arguments. It is a list pulled from the studies, community discussions and the stated outcomes/impacts. If you have items to add, please provide a comment and/or send me a message. This is an evolving list. Tonight’s meeting and subsequent community discussion will likely add and subtract from it.

Please note: The list’s focus is on the road because that is the only item that’s been drawn to this date and really the main point of contention. Also, I separate the recreational trail from the road as they can and will happen separately.

Reasons TO build: West Boardman Lake Ave. may…

  • …reduce vehicles per day (VPD) in parts of Old Towne Neighborhood.*
  • …fulfill a 20 year goal for some City residents.
  • …facilitate the moving of MDOT’s rail wye at 14th Street and Cass.
  • …facilitate east/west motorized traffic through the City. **
  • …provide incentive for additional new commercial and residential development.***
  • …increase revenue to the City by nature of being classified a major street.

Reasons NOT TO build: West Boardman Lake Ave. may…

  • …induce more motorized traffic, measured in trips and miles.*
  • …encourage east/west motorized traffic through City neighborhoods. **
  • …have limited infill/development opportunity. ***
  • …degrade east/west walkability.
  • …have limited design options (influencing both aesthetics and speed) due to limited space (35-ft) and use of non-local funding.
  • …(will) require annual maintenance costs and reduce available funds potentially applied to current streets.
  • …stress 14th Street and 8th Street corridors with increases in vehicles & miles driven.
  • …create a barrier between the City and one of its most important amenities (lake and trail).
  • …create increased need to manage stormwater pollution from a roadway.
  • …limit ability to create a place for recreation & social exchange along Boardman Lake.
  • …counter the values expressed by 86% of residents who expressed that they’d rather see investments in existing infrastructure before building new roads. (GV Values, pg 10 Fig.6)

____________

* From the most ambitious numbers provided by the consultant, BLA is projected to handle between 16-20,000 VPD. The current high counts for Cass St. and Union St. total around 21,000. If we use the projected counts, the City  will see an increase of 5,200(+/-) vehicle trips per day for a total of 26,200-vpd.  If the projections are correct, the plan is that Union St. will see 3,200-vpd and the goal for Cass St. is 3000-vpd.

Here is how I calculated the induced demand:  (3,200(Union) + 3000(Cass) + 20,000(BLA)) - (2100) = 5,200 induced trips with the new road. This is without challenging the assumed reduction rates and consideration of behavioral changes that have known patterns of occurring with increased capacity, chief among them even more miles driven. The majority of the increased demand will come from new traffic generated through the corridor because the cost of driving through that area will dramatically be decreased-we are subsidizing driving rather than restricting it. (See Hinge Line for an explanation of how motorized traffic acts like a gas and expands into excess capacity.)

* * These items may be viewed either-way, depending on how your perception and belief in the role the City plays in providing for motorized traffic that is primarily just going through the City to avoid Grandview Parkway.

** * Something that will hopefully be answered during this round of public input is the real infill opportunities that exist, as well as the impact on the streets when that development occurs.

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  1. Franny Bluhm
    February 23, 2011 at 11:43 am | #1

    If the proposed road is really intended to move traffic from 8th st to 14th st, would it not be better to use the 4.5 million dollars to enhance the Grandview Parkway to make it a more desirable trip to get to 14th street’s west end. Let’s have imput on that.
    The unpassable divisive road that would be set up in the middle of this lovely precious area keeping people from walking & biking this gorgeous trail from east side to west side of the city would be a true loss – one that would be irreversible in the future. I see and hear loons nesting in that nw corner of Boardman lake all summer long – They will not stay with increased human presence of noisy cars.
    And finally – 20 years from now – when gas is hugely more expensive and more of us are on our bikes, feet and public transportation within the city, we will totally regret that we have this 20 yr old WestBoardmanLake Ave to take care of when fewer and fewer cars are on it, and we want our quiet neighborhood back.

  2. Bill Palladino
    February 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm | #2

    My main concern is the true efficacy of the road. This public input process is being couched as a moment to take a breath and listen to the community, which I appreciate. The underlying message in the text however is one of presumption that the road will be built and that it’s really a matter of the public dealing with it.

    I’m not sure the road needs to be built, especially in its current design. Hanging onto a decade-old process and suggesting that we “avoid duplication” of discussions from 2004 and earlier is putting undue confidence in a planning process. So much has changed since then including hundreds more residents now living on both ends of the proposed area, a newly traveled recreation crossing of the Boardman River, and the commitment of Oryana – a cornerstone business in the heart of the area – to invest in that location. In respect to the neighborhood impacts, I’m not convinced a road will solve our problems. I’d first like a commitment from the City to work on real street-level solutions on Cass Street. At minimum these might include better flow control and traffic calming applications. Road or no road, without tackling this fundamental challenge the neighborhoods will continue to suffer.

    Backing up a bit, I feel that the process should start with what to do with the resources we have in West Boardman Lake area, not start with the assumption that it WILL BE a road and we should work around it. There is currently no proof that a road is the answer to the issues presented. As a daily user of both the improved and unimproved recreation opportunities present on Boardman Lake, I’d like to make sure we prioritize their preservation for the ultimate good of the community.

    Finally, I’d point out that this road doesn’t appear on the priority corridor list of the extensive (and very recent) Grand Vision Transportation Study (Sections 3.6 and 4.2). If we’re building what will be a new corridor, I’d want to focus attention on first considering the Grand Vision principles BEFORE designing any new road. Treating it as an exception takes us away from the hard-fought and expensive planning effort that went into the Grand Vision. Building a road outside this process puts us back to that nostalgic way of building something first and fixing the problems it creates later.

    The foundation of my concerns are simply that we consider the future implications for any development, (a road or otherwise), along this rare in-town natural area and weigh those thoughtfully against our community’s real need to expand and continue to prosper.

    Thanks for keeping this conversation going.

  3. February 24, 2011 at 9:07 am | #3

    Below is a comment a reader sent in and wanted me to share. It was submitted to the consultant as well:

    Boardman Lake Avenue Public Comment

    If we are serious about where the city is going in transportation planning (i.e., context- sensitive solutions and complete streets), then Boardman Lake Avenue only makes sense if it is necessary to serve the western shore of Boardman Lake.

    Three questions must be answered before we commit to such an extensive and expensive project: What are the transportation needs of the neighborhood where the road is being built, how will the new road fit into and improve the existing transportation grid, and how will the new road impact traffic in Old Town, on 14th St. and 8th St.?

    I understand that traffic on Cass Street is a problem, but claims are being made right now by government officials that Boardman Lake Avenue will make 50 – 80% of this go away. Any data supporting this is outdated and predates Rivers Edge, the Midtown development, and even the downtown renaissance.

    We are lucky in geography. Traverse City is small and growth has been restricted by our natural features. We have escaped much of the “bulldoze and make it bigger” approach to building transportation infrastructure that was so popular the last half of the last century. The result is an aesthetic, human-scaled walkable community that people want to live in. The last thing we should be doing is constructing bypasses.

    I believe the tipping point for me was the proposal to purchase the Copy Central building and tear it down so the city could construct another intersection on 8th Street between Boardman and Cass. Even apart from the financial cost, it is ludicrous to put another busy intersection into what is already one of the most congested and dangerous road sections of the entire city.

    The city needs to be very careful as it moves forward on this project, and be sure it knows what it is creating. Please don’t let the promise of the easy money of BRA funds cloud the judgment of our decision-makers.

  4. February 24, 2011 at 9:12 am | #4

    I thought last night’s meeting was a good discussion. I liked to see all the views and concerns aired without managing or filtering.

    Couple things I hope people will consider. First, Old Town is one of the city’s historic neighborhoods, which define perhaps more than anything else the character of the city, and which are unique and irreplaceable.

    Old Town is slipping. You can see it in the home prices on Union St, and in the physical appearance as well as the home prices and patterns of ownership on Cass. The reason is the traffic. If you doubt that, ask yourself if you would invest your life savings in a house on Union or Cass.

    The extra traffic burden is the east-west burden, not the north-south burden. Old Town understands it will always bear traffic going N to downtown. The issue is traffic going E-W on the Silver Lake-14th-8th-31/72 corridor. By the way, that is a Grand Vision corridor of significance.

    So the place to start is to resolve we will not give up on this neighborhood. We have to do something. The existing plan needs to be re-examined, the right solution needs to be determined in the context of the whole grid, we need to find solutions to important questions about induced traffic, vehicle speeds, driver behavior, and pedestrian/bicycle mobility. But we have to do something.

    Saying well we feel bad for them but those are the breaks is not doing something. Saying we won’t address a serious problem unless the solution is perfect is not doing something. Engaging in wishful thinking is not doing something.

    Doing something means something that is implementable, based on data and reasonable inferences from the data, with a plan to pay for it. It is probably not one thing that needs to be done but a number of things. They include additional bike/ped infrastructure, calming of 8th St, calming of Union and Cass. And they may very well include some new pavement.

    Getting people from Long Lake and Garfield to stop driving their cars to East Bay and Acme is a laudable goal and a good topic to keep discussing. But it’s not a plan that is implementable, based on data and reasonable inferences from that data, or funded. For the foreseeable future, it’s wishful thinking.

    Finally, I would suggest this. There are legit debates in the city about whether we throw money at outside interests for projects that prolong the auto-supremacy-at-all-costs culture, when the same money could be spent to the greater benefit of residents on projects that mitigate the burden to our neighborhoods of that culture.

    Plowing $1 million of our savings into a tunnel to serve the Hotel Indigo was the most recent such debate. Whether to plow another $1 million of our savings into super-sizing the West Front St parking deck is likely to be the next such debate.

    West Boardman Lake is not that kind of debate. The investments we are talking about would be made to protect neighborhoods.

    We can have reasonable arguments about the best way to do that, and we should. I am glad we are having them, and I do not by these comments suggest we have the answer yet. I commend Gary for providing such a great forum for the discussion.

  5. February 24, 2011 at 9:44 am | #5

    Thank you for the comments and for leading the City to re-open this discussion, Mayor.

    I also think that last night was productive for getting a lot of issues onto the table, although I still feel like the only option the City is considering is building another arterial and that has yet been proven to be a solution for Old Town. What happens if we build a major road only to see Cass St. be reduced from 13,000 to say 10,000 or 9,000-vpd. That’s likely because even in the current numbers, the projection is an increase of around 5,200 vpd between the three roads and that is very conservative.

    So, we build it and then what?

    I’d much prefer the city first invest in transforming Old Town’s current streets by declaring it a traffic calming neighborhood. Traffic calming isn’t intended to reduce traffic, but it can ameliorate the negative impacts caused by behavior and when it does reduce traffic, it’s my understanding that it is the most aggressive drivers who choose other routes. That is precisely what we want. We spend a lot of money designing streets for the least prudent drivers (wide lanes, huge turning-radi) and I think it’s time we instead design for those who recognize that when they drive through the City that they are guests in someone’s neighborhood.

    A retrofit project for Old Town I’d vote to fund; a new arterial dividing neighborhoods and adding to our current legacy costs, at this time, with the design limitations and lack of clear proof of success, wouldn’t get my vote.

  6. February 24, 2011 at 10:55 am | #6

    I thought it was a great discussion. It’s not an argument. It’s real dialog and people are really trying to understand needs and concerns. That’s powerful in my opinion. The sign of a great city – one that could attract young talent.

    I’m surprised that people came up to me after the meeting and told me they never thought about conducting a simple traffic calming study to Union and Cass.

    If a goal is to reducing or slowing traffic, then it only makes sense to look at all options. I don’t think traffic calming was ever examined. It appears that only one option was examined – adding another road. Am I correct?

    Why don’t we conduct a demonstration project using cones/pilons to simulate changes in the road and curb design? Then over time (weeks), look at that has on traffic behavior.

    If it accomplishes the goal, then there would be more time to really create a plan for the West Boardman area. That plan could emphasize recreational, comercial, residential opportunities in that are available. If a road fits that plan, then great. But the road should not be the primary starting point. The entire property should be maximized to the best use.

    So many people are driving down Cass and Union because it’s relatively convenient. If we made it slightly less convenient, what would that do? At this point, we don’t know. I think we owe it to ourselves to find out before making this significant long-term change to the city.

    If Old Town residents are able to influence traffic through design of their street, then they are in control. If you add more capacity, they will have no idea what will happen next. It is way too unpredictable. The traffic is due to things that are out of your control – single-use growth in Silver/Long Lake region.

    I’m young and I just moved here. I walk in Old Town often. I would love to buy a place in Old Town despite the traffic. There are so many improvements to be made that will make Union and Cass great streets. If there area next to Boardman Lake is a destination – even better.

  7. February 24, 2011 at 11:27 am | #7

    Chris,

    On the East-West issue:

    Do you think mixed-use Town Center ideas in Acme and Interlochen will impact traffic in the corridors of significance?

    Acme may have plans to become a mixed-use Town Center with grocery as the primary anchor.
    Interlochen just hired a group of well-respected new urbanist planners to come in an design a mixed-use Town Center. It’s likely going to attract many people from Silver Lake and Long Lake areas.

    Those ares are primarily single-family, detached housing and the residents and those residents are driving across town to meet basic needs. If their needs could be met within these mixed-use Town Centers, there would be significantly less cross-town traffic.

    The East-West issue seems to be an issue of retrofitting those development patterns. (…and preventing those development patterns continue in the future)

    Any thoughts?
    Others?

    Follow-Up:

    By the way…I understand that I’m way too new to the area to be offering a simple solution to the long-standing East/West issue. :)
    I’m just throwing that out there to provoke thought.

    Also, when I said “Interlochen just hired,” I meant to say Green Lake Twp. just hired….

  8. Mike Grant
    February 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm | #8

    Chris,

    I appreciate that you’re remaining open minded about this issue. I do want to ask about your mentioning of the Grand Vision identifying 8th/14th/etc as being a corridor of significance. Has the City “adopted” the GV in some fashion? I ask this primarily because I don’t know the answer. And also because I don’t believe that the GV traffic study is consistent with the City’s Master Plan.

    The traffic study projects a 22% growth on 8th between Cass and Garfield. That’s, of course, assuming that the City allows the traffic to increase 22%. The City’s Master Plan, on the other hand, calls for the Depot area to be high-density and mixed-used, and the 8th street corridor between there and Garfield to be a neighborhood area. A neighborhood area like Old Town is a neighborhood area.

    The vision of the City’s Master Plan isn’t consistent with the volumes of traffic on 8th street today, let alone the 22% more traffic that the GV calls for there to be on 8th in 2035. So I’m bothered by the idea that the City would pay any heed to what the GV identifies or doesn’t identify as a corridor of significance. Because I don’t think it’s consistent with the Master Plan.

    As a practical matter, I agree with you that the bulk of the traffic on 8th is cut-through traffic to/from the townships. If 8th street was made more difficult to traverse, which it will have to be in order for the goals of the Master Plan to be achieved, then I believe that traffic would go either to Grandview Parkway, or South Airport, or would go away entirely as drivers decide it isn’t worth it to try and go all the way through the City and back. I don’t think if 8th was calmed that you’d see a lot of cutting through City neighborhoods.

    Of course, I’m not a fan of the Grand Vision generally. We bought a road study that the feds likely would have paid for when TALUS is declared an MPO, and a land use plan that leads nowhere. If we’d put the $1.6M that was wasted instead into improvements to the Beitner/Keystone corridor that would have taken that much more heat off of South Airport and Grandview Parkway. Which would make putting 8th street on a road diet that much more viable. Oh well.

  9. Chris Hinze
    February 24, 2011 at 10:01 pm | #9

    Chris, thank you for advocating for those of us who live in Old Town. Given the tone of the meeting last night, and others, it seems that many people do not take Old Town’s traffic issues seriously. Last night we heard some citizens say they don’t think the traffic on Cass & Union is that bad. We heard residents of central neighborhood upset that their roads are approaching 2,000 cars a day. I can tell you that my neighbors on Union street and down the block on Cass street would gladly accept 2,000 cars a day vs the 8,000-13,000 we currently see.

    I like Gary and Jim’s ideas on traffic calming for Old Town. Whether we see BLA built or not, Cass/Union need traffic calming. But calm traffic does not mean less volume, and volume is the issue in Old Town. Chris is right when the majority of this volume is likely East/West traffic trying to get through town. Will BLA solve this East/West issue? It seems logical that it would, but I agree that a traffic impact study should be done to determine if this road will do what the city wants it to and how it will impact the surrounding neighborhoods and streets. Maybe this study can also look at how converting 7th/8th streets back to two-way streets might also impact Old Town traffic.

  10. Katie
    February 25, 2011 at 7:46 am | #10

    Folks, the comments here, together with the high number of spirited comments at the public input session, seem to indicate the only real resolution to this problem.

    First, everyone seems to agree that:
    - Cass & Union Streets are too busy; something needs to be done.
    - Traffic Calming measures have never been tried at all on Cass/Union.
    - There is a high level of serious concerns expressed, on a number of fronts, about building BLA.
    - There is no current hard & fast data, and no current opinion from traffic experts, about how BLA would work.
    - In addition, the overall area’s population continues to grow each year, and will do so into the future. Add to that, our Bayfront is going to be improved, there’s a new hotel coming (Indigo), hopefully the Warehouse district will grow, Hagerty Insurance is building a new building at 8th & Cass; all of this bringing even more people (cars) into town.
    - Whatever we do, we want it to be Right.

    So, the immediate next steps in the decision-making process would be:
    - As soon as possible, implement serious, known-to-be-effective, traffic-calming measures on Cass & Union. Run these measures for a multi-month period and carefully evaluate the results.
    - Do not approve moving forward with BLA (at the vote). Do not buy Copy Central. Instead:
    - Engage experts to work on the problem of traffic for TOTAL Traverse City. With all that we have going on, and with what is coming in future years, total TC should have an integrated plan for how to get people into the City, through the city, and around the City. In other words, this is not a problem just for Old Town; and we should be proactive to look for solutions for all of Traverse City for today and for the years ahead. This is a complex problem and needs serious expertise and the latest techniques and technologies.
    - Then, put together the traffic calming results from Cass & Union, the recommendations from Experts, as well as any other relevant efforts, and come up with a total Traverse City integrated Traffic Plan. Perhaps there are a number of other changes that should be made, too (i.e. changing 1-way streets to 2-way, etc.). At the conclusion of the study, if BLA (or something like it) is indicated, then we should all feel much more comfortable with it. It would be a decision based on expertise and data, based on our current state as well as the future, and thus hopefully could be supported by all. The investment of the time and the money should yield solid results that are beneficial in the long run.

    Seems like the only possible approach to me. Doing anything else is not seriously feasible and could yield even bigger problems than we already have.

    We all want this great city to function well, and remain a great place to live, in all respects. Let’s do this right!

  11. February 25, 2011 at 8:33 am | #11

    How do we know that traffic calming on Union/Cass would not lead to less volume? Have we conducted any tests?

    Traffic calming can lead to less convenience for drivers. Less convenience means less volume.

  12. February 26, 2011 at 4:24 am | #12

    I cannot begin to explain the many-many reasons I am against building more roads, but I will begin with today’s list of reasons. From “Carjacked” by Catherine Lutz & Anne Lutz Fernandez:

    “Several studies in Denver showed that children living next to high-traffic corridors were six times more likely to develop all cancer types. Children who live near streets carrying 20,000 or more vehicles per day were six times more likely to contract childhood leukemia.” We should not be building more car roads which encourage people to drive more because “drive time remakes us — into a more hyperindividualistic, antisocial, angry, and unhealthy person.”

    And the following is from an Op-Ed Column (If Not now When? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/opinion/23friedman.html?emc=eta1) by Thomas L. Friedman, commenting on our “deal” with the oil producing countries:

    “Our message to the region has been very consistent: “Guys (it was only guys we spoke with), here’s the deal. Keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t bother the Israelis too much and, as far as we’re concerned, you can do whatever you want out back. You can deprive your people of whatever civil rights you like. You can engage in however much corruption you like. You can preach whatever intolerance from your mosques that you like. You can print whatever conspiracy theories about us in your newspapers that you like. You can keep your women as illiterate as you like. You can create whatever vast welfare-state economies, without any innovative capacity, that you like. You can undereducate your youth as much as you like. Just keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t hassle the Jews too much — and you can do whatever you want out back.”

  13. T. Werner
    February 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm | #13

    I fully support a traffic study (how broad of a study?) to help understand what is going on before the city proceeds with BLA. I’m an engineer and a natural skeptic, so would like some quantitative information on east-west traffic compared to north-south traffic.

    Even some old traffic count information might provide some usefull numbers. East to west traffic is more likely to head west (right turn) from Union before 14th and west (another right turn) again onto 14th, compared to west to east traffic that would have to make left turns doing the opposite route. So traffic count numbers on Union south of 12th should show that south bound (includes west bound) traffic is statistically less than north bound (includes east bound) traffic if east-west is a major portion of the traffic. Of course there could be other explanations of such a difference.

  14. February 28, 2011 at 11:00 am | #14

    Long ago (1985-1991) I was a biweekly RE columnist. The column that generated some of the most vigorous responses I ever got was one on Grandview Parkway: it was a mistake, it cuts us off from our beautiful Bay. We should tear it up. People said “Count me in” “I’ll bring a shovel,” “Let’s do it.”
    And what are we about to do now? Build a roadway that cuts between us and the Boardman.
    I just found an article that addresses the issue, an article about how Milwaukee Tore Down a superhighway: http://www.preservenet.com/freeways/FreewaysTear.html
    “Urban street grids can distribute Urban traffic more efficiently than do highways…. travelers should be offered options. Government should invest in streets, sidewalks, transit, and bike paths instead of devoting almost all of its tax money to huge, highly engineered expressways….Yet federal highway programs still concentrate tax dollars on building giant grade-separated roads that cut through or around urban grids….the Federal Highway Administration seeks to concentrate traffic on a few large roads. The concentrated traffic congeals into congestion and the system is overwhelmed….imposes gigantic and destructive intrusions on complex urban situations.”
    I admit (he would admit) we, in Old Town, will have to cope with more cars, but the answer is that cars are okay, if cars are made to slowdown, and I hate the words “traffic calming” and I (and all car drivers) hate speed bumps (called sleeping policemen in England).
    Signs annoy us, bumps wreck our cars, the way to slow cars down is make car drivers feel it is wrong, it is dangerous, to go fast. Wrong? The child is near the road, the playground is nearby, the environment says to you, says to your car, slow down. Dangerous? The tree is right there, the bicycles are all around you.
    Make car drivers “feel” it is right & pleasant to slow down. Make them see the beautiful environment, the pretty trees, the playing children. Feel it in their bones, not feel they are being yelled at.
    The essence? You are a guest in a thriving, people & bicycle filled environment. We welcome you, at a human speed. Look around you. Be happy. Slow down.
    “Four cities have replaced expressways with avenues and boulevards. I predict this is just the beginning. With property values skyrocketing near demolished freeways, urban expressway deconstruction could be one of the biggest public works projects of the 21st century.”
    Read the article. It talks about Detroit, Portland, san Francisco. It talks about European cities. It is relevant to us.

  15. June Thaden
    February 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm | #15

    I agree that more needs to be known about where the traffic is currently proceeding. A count should at least be made at 14th and Cass — south & north of the intersection on Cass, and west of it on 14th.

    I drove from Division on 14th today about 3:30 pm in a stream of eastbound traffic. Two cars turned south at Cass, 5 of us turned north onto Cass. There were 4 cars northbound waiting at the light on Cass. We really need counts to see if the situation I observed today (which seemed typical in my experience) is generally true.

    Adding more traffic to 8th St is not viable, and more than likely a “faster” way through that neighborhood will attract more traffic.

    And this is a city wide problem requiring city wide discussion and solutions. Further, numbers of trips by cars will decrease as the cost and availability of gasoline becomes more of a problem than it already is. Not a great time to build a new road — one that will be a barricade between the neighborhood and Boardman Lake.

  16. Brian H
    March 2, 2011 at 11:44 am | #16

    The mayor writes above: “Old Town is slipping. You can see it in the home prices on Union St, and in the physical appearance as well as the home prices and patterns of ownership on Cass. The reason is the traffic. If you doubt that, ask yourself if you would invest your life savings in a house on Union or Cass.”

    I think several people would disagree with you. A large 4-plex house on 9/Cass was purchased and is being restored to a single family home. Two houses were purchased this last summer on either side of the 9th/10th alley on Cass and those owners immediately went to work on them. More renovation work was done on two houses on Cass at 10th and 11th Streets. A few years ago, a new home was built on Union and that house recently sold. There are many of us on the major cut-through corridors in Old Town that continue to renovate and improve our homes.

    Everyone’s home values have been dropping, but before you ask all the City residents to subsidize (monetarily and by giving up green space) home prices on Union and township drivers by building a new road, how about investing directly in our neighborhoods. Here’s a short list to start from that could have a direct impact on traffic behavior: plant the tree lawns along Cass and Union; fine the heavy trucks that are cutting through our neighborhoods; place a couple orange cones in the road to experiment with traffic calming; maintain/fix our existing roads and sidewalks to make them safer for motorists and pedestrians.

    Will these simple investments bring traffic volumes down to those of 30 years ago? No. However, they are a correct first step in the process, whereas building a new road and adding capacity should be the last step in the process.

  17. March 3, 2011 at 9:22 am | #17

    Thank you for the insight, Brian. I think that you stated it very well. Property values have been on my mind lately, but I didn’t know exactly how to say it. I know when I bought my house that I couldn’t afford homes in Old Town despite being my preferred location. It was preferred because it was centrally located and within 15 minute walking distance to 90% of my destinations. Instead, I bought a home I could afford over a mile east of downtown. Mind you, my ‘hood is pleasant, great neighbors, close to many amenities, yet still a little further outside of the core activity area than I’d prefer, especially when that January north wind is blowing in hard off of the bay.

    Of Course, now that I’m here on the eastern edge, I’m also seeing how the centralized development of our downtown, which has been built to move cars through the neighborhoods into a 6 block radius damages the edges of the City. To facilitate cars into downtown, intersections like Garfield and 8th become auto-centric developments with large, unsafe intersections, businesses that cater to people driving in and out of the City, and in general are after-thoughts for neighborhood improvements by the City. This is also a main concern of mine regarding the BLA and facilitating motorized traffic in an E-W corridor, the increase of traffic will impact downstream opportunities at places like 8th/Garfield, perhaps for the next 30 plus years.

    I’d much rather the City begin to invest in park and ride lots and decks on the edges of our neighborhoods and spend a lot less money ferrying people into the center on buses, sidewalks and bike lanes. Again, as a City, we don’t have to cater to our most aggressive and consuming transportation mode: it’s a choice.

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