Councilperson Kristen Larson shared in her most recent newsletter that the city’s traffic division completed three studies focusing on different areas in the H&H area: Forest Hill Terrace, Huguenot, and Bliley Road and Westower Drive. In addition there is the Huguenot and Cherokee Traffic Light Study that will be completed. Below is a quick look at all the major changes proposed from the completed studies.
Forest Hill Terrace is an 82-page document. It takes an extensive look at traffic issues throughout the study area and is worth your time to dive-in and roll about in the information. It has four major recommendations in addition to addressing various sidewalk and drainage issues. One of the main issues that would be addressed is drivers using the bike lane to illegally pass cars making a left turn. These protective bump-outs would help protect cyclist and pedestrians. There is a lengthy section on the impact of the Farmers Market which will be a separate post either later today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday).
The Forest Hill Terrace study will be presented at the upcoming Forest Hill Neighborhood meeting next Tuesday, Sept 17th at 7 pm at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church (4401 Forest Hill Ave). The total cost for all these changes would be $860,000. The previous link breaks out the cost per project.
Currently, there is no marked pedestrian crossing of Forest Hill Avenue between W. 48th Street and W. 43rd Street – a distance of approximately 2,300 feet (over four tenths of a mile). Per the City’s Better Streets Manual, on a neighborhood connector street typology (such as Forest Hill Avenue), the preferred distance to a crossing is 400 feet and the maximum distance should be 900 feet. The introduction of a new pedestrian crossing at Taylor Avenue reduces the distance without a crossing (Taylor Avenue to W. 43rd Street) to about 600 feet. Additionally, there are multiple pedestrian generators at the Taylor Avenue intersection including the Envoy of Westover Hills retirement home, a dog park, and GRTC bus stops in both directions. VHB observed pedestrians crossing Forest Hill Avenue at this location. VHB proposes the conceptual improvement shown in Figure 9 at this intersection. A new pedestrian crossing and RRFB will be installed to encourage vehicles to yield to crossing pedestrians. The existing bike lanes on Forest Hill Avenue will be tapered out into the existing buffer between the curb and sidewalk to create space for 6-foot wide pedestrian refuge islands between the bike lanes and the vehicle travel zone, thereby reducing the pedestrian crossing distance by a third – from 36 feet to 24 feet. The RRFBs will also be placed in the islands, which will increase the device’s conspicuity to drivers. Both the device and the waiting pedestrians are brought inwards from the traditional sidewalk placement (existing condition at 41st and 43rd Streets), a condition which will improve drivers’ sightlines to both. The perceived narrowing of the roadway will also induce traffic calming on Forest Hill Avenue, encouraging drivers to slow their speeds. All of these elements put together are expected to increase driver compliance to the RRFB device.
The existing brick crosswalk at W. 48th Street was installed in the late 1990s when the City utilized brick crosswalks to designate the transition from a residential to a commercial neighborhood. Unfortunately, this brick crosswalk no longer meets ADA standards and is at odds with the Better Street Manual guidelines regarding crosswalk design. VHB proposes the conceptual improvement shown in Figure 10 for the block between Westover Hills Boulevard and W. 48th Street. This improvement will bring this crosswalk up to ADA and Better Streets standards, and it will shorten the pedestrian crossing distance by creating pedestrian bump-outs along both the north and south side of Forest Hill Avenue.
The existing RRFBs at W. 41st and W. 43rd Streets have 36-foot pedestrian crossing distances (two 12-foot travel lanes and two 6-foot bike lanes). One of the public’s main concerns raised at the corridor walkthrough was driver compliance to these two RRFBs; in other words, concern that drivers do not yield to pedestrians when the flashers are activated. VHB proposes the conceptual improvements shown in Figures 11 and 12 at these two intersections. The two concepts are identical to each other and very similar to the proposed conceptual improvement at Taylor Avenue. The bike lanes taper into the existing buffer to create room for 6-foot wide pedestrian refuge islands between the bike lanes and the vehicle travel zone. This reduces the existing 36-foot long single movement pedestrian crossing to three shorter crossings – two 5-foot bike lane crossings and one 24-foot vehicle crossing. The RRFBs are relocated to the refuge islands; the new location of the RRFBs and waiting pedestrians are expected to increase conspicuity and driver compliance to the RRFBs. An additional benefit of these concepts is that they will physically resolve an existing safety hazard that occurs at these intersections. Drivers on Forest Hill Avenue currently stop to turn left onto the side streets; some following drivers will pull around the left-turning vehicle rather than wait for that vehicle to complete its turn. In order to pull around the turning vehicle, the following vehicle pulls into the bike lane, thereby creating a scenario whereby the following vehicle might strike a pedestrian that has entered the crosswalk (see Photo 10). The introduction of the refuge islands physically eliminates the potential for this vehicle movement to occur.
The Huguenot Study took a look at speed and accidents in the area below and has a much less extensive recommendation of installing speed tables and additional signage.
The Bliley Road and Westower Drive Study focused on the narrow roads, drainage, stormwater management, and safety. There are no sidewalks, little shoulder, and in many areas, the road is only 20′ wide. There are several proposals to address the issue ranging from the most expensive sidewalk and curb at $2.925 million to the least expensive simply adding shoulder at $1.5 million.
Huguenot and Cherokee Traffic Light Study will look into the severity and number of crashes at that location to see if they meet the criteria for installing a traffic light. It does list all the accidents for roughly the past 5 years.