The parking-deck party & a discussion on roundabouts on the schedule
Monday Rant (+1)
Doubling-up on a post today…first a short P-Deck rant and below that, thoughts about Ian Lockwood’s visit to talk roundabouts.
City opens new party hall for 522 cars
At 10:30-am, the city will have a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate another temple of worship to the parked car. Once open, the The Old Town parking deck will host daily services M-F, with smaller observances held over the weekends.
I have an inner conflict with our p-decks. I actually like p-decks as a curiosity & have purposefully parked at the top of them for the chance to drive through them. It’s exciting to see the innards of a structure so open. Besides the novelty, they are also touted as a smart growth tool to increase density by replacing surface lots, which isn’t a bad thing. However, as they are operated in Traverse City, our P-Decks continue to encourage/accept/support/enable an over-reliance on single occupant automobile commuting. It’s been about expanding parking while capturing/spending TIF money downtown, meanwhile citizens have to beg for a sidewalk on a street like Barlow (FYI, that project has now been indefinitely postponed).
It’s all fine-and-well that the Old Town P-Deck is LEED certified, is embraced as saving the city from a Hagerty Insurance move and promises a gold nugget to every city resident…but really, big whoopee.
Is there a phrase about a pig & lipstick that I could use?
Parking in Traverse City remains an under-valued commodity. Street parking remains so cheap that there is little incentive to use our parking decks, let alone pay the meter, and, from my napkin calculations, the $370 annual permit for a single space in the parking deck covers about 25-35% of the construction & maintenance cost of that single space per year. If the spaces are empty, the costs remain. We are subsidizing the parking of cars with the current structure & system. We do so while also increasing the opportunity for more car traffic on our limited street network and increasing the need for major, ugly, inhospitable intersections on the corners of our city.
Ahh, this is a rant for another day…ribbon cutting ceremonies are for looking ahead to a brighter future. I just wish that we could find a quarter of the amount the city is about to allocate for the next sexy DDA project, the West Front P-Deck, to build, fix or maintain a sidewalk without a fight. Perhaps if we charged adequate amounts for parking, we could use the proceeds to invest in our neighborhoods and build some infrastructure that moves us away from being a city that gathers to celebrate temples for cars.
In the meantime, be ready to continue to fight like hell for basics of city service, like crosswalks, bike lanes, sidewalks and bus stops. Despite being less costly transportation solutions, these facilities remain a struggle….uhg.
I’m looking for local parking gurus…the p-deck Kool-Aid offered so far isn’t working.
Traffic calming and roundabout discussions
A more productive event today is transportation engineer Ian Lockwood’s forum. He specializes in traffic calming measures, in particular handling corridors like Division St. that have high traffic flow while running through context sensitive areas like our own Division St., Grandview Parkway or even 8th Street.
Lockwood was here this past spring to lead a public charrette for rethinking Division St. & one for Grandview. After balancing all the diverse set of community needs, he proposed a series of roundabouts as the main option to ameliorate the four areas of concern: safety, accessibility, context and quality.
The community is asking for a corridor that provides for a diverse set of mobility options, that is safe, convenient and has a sense of place. Many argue that as the entrance to our city, Division St. needs to communicate loudly, “Greetings! Welcome to Traverse City where we value neighborhoods. Show some freaking respect and slow down and share the damn road.”
Or, something like that.
Lockwood isn’t here to talk about Division St. He is here to provide insight to traffic calming, including, but not limited to, roundabouts. The main event, which will also include a presentation by MDOT, is this evening from 4:30-6pm at the Hagerty Center and before the city commission at 7-pm at the government center.
MyWHaT has dedicated a lot of time to roundabouts since the spring, and this author still maintains that for Division St., it is an elegant compromise. A series of roundabouts could go a long way in improving the conditions of the corridor. Roundabouts are also a major development out of the Bayfront Planning Initiative, despite consistently being played down as a distant option by city staff they are a way to Put the Park back into the Parkway. There are a number of other locations where roundabouts would improve conditions.
The resources are available for everyone to reach an informed consent on roundabouts and MyWHaT has a growing list of resources on roundabouts to help, including the well populated map of Michigan roundabouts. Going on a road trip? Check the map and see if you can include a roundabout experience.
It’s posted at the resource page, but this cheesy government PSA from Carmel, Indiana is a useful introduction to roundabouts. It also answers why this Midwestern town has embraced them to the count of over 50.