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On Tuesday February 6th, the City Council held a Special Council Meeting to discuss the Third Street Corridor. A presentation was made by Staff outlining the efforts of the Transportation Commission and the Subcommittee, the development of the Alternative Plans, the public input process, and the recommendations of the Commission and Staff. Public testimony was accepted by the Mayor and discussion of the Plan options occurred. The Council unanimously approved proceeding with Plan C (Separated Two Way Bike Lanes) and directed Staff to work with a qualified consultant to determine the best way to implement the new system. Design work on the common components of the plans is underway with the entire project anticipated to be constructed in the summer of 2018.
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The design of the new multimodal bridge will occur during the fall and winter of 2017/18 with an intent to advertise for bids for construction in the spring of 2018. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from qualified consulting engineering firms was first published on September 2, 2017.Selection of a design firm for the project was completed in September and design work commenced in November.
The Multimodal Bridge is proposed to include two vehicular travel lanes, two bicycle lanes, and two pedestrian sidewalks. The width of the bridge is likely to match the existing roadway width on both sides of Paradise Creek. The bridge elevation will be set in accordance with floodplain requirements and as low as possible to minimize impacts on surrounding properties, sidewalks, and driveways.
The existing street on both sides of Paradise Creek was designed and constructed at elevations anticipated to accommodate future bridge construction. This is likely to minimize elevation discrepancies with surrounding properties. At this time, the City is not anticipating the need to acquire any additional street right of way, but confirmation of this situation will occur during the design process.
Public Works Department Staff started an assessment of the Corridor including review of existing traffic counts, sidewalk infrastructure, bicycle network opportunities, speed limits, school zones, intersection traffic control, lighting, and adjacent land uses. To assist in this process a request was made to the Transportation Commission to review potential traffic calming measures to identify which could be applied within the Corridor. Due to the short time frame between the adoption of the budget and the City Council’s intention to have the bridge construction in FY2018, a Subcommittee of the Transportation Commission was formed for an intense in-depth review of traffic calming measures. The Subcommittee was comprised of three Transportation Commission members, four members of the public, the City Council liaison to the Commission, an outside technical advisor, and the Public Works Director. The Subcommittee met eight times over a four week period between the Transportation Commission meetings of November 9th and December 14th.
One of the first tasks of the Subcommittee was the identification of major issues of interest within the Corridor. Based on the issues identified, the Subcommittee expanded the scope of their work to include many facets of the Corridor beyond simple traffic calming measures. These included the following:
Three plans were created through the work of the Subcommittee and City Staff. While each plan uses different approaches to modifying the Corridor to address identified issues, there are some proposed traffic management features that are consistent among all of the plans. A summary of those features and descriptions of their attributes is attached. A summary of the three plans, which outlines their characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages, is provided below along with estimated construction costs. At the conclusion of the Subcommittee’s meetings a report of activities and findings was presented to the Transportation Commission at the December 14th meeting. This report included information on the topics discussed, information gathered, and plans developed. The Subcommittee also conveyed a preference for Plan C to the Commission. Plan C proposes the use of Two Way Separated Bike Lanes on the north side of Third Street.
At the December 14, 2017 meeting, the Transportation Commission discussed how best to proceed with the information provided by the Subcommittee and the next step of the public input process. The Commission recommended starting the public input period as quickly as possible and desired to let it run long enough to provide ample opportunity after the Holidays to gather input. The January 2018 Commission meeting was postponed for two weeks to allow a longer input period. The public input period opened on December 22, 2017 and closed on January 21, 2018. During this time an exhibit was on display on the second floor of City Hall which included information on the overall process, Subcommittee, traffic calming measures, plan alternatives and features, and the estimated costs for each of the three plans. In addition, similar information was placed on the City’s webpage and two Open Houses with additional information were held in the Council Chambers on January 11th and 18th. Public input was received via comment cards at the City Hall display and Open Houses, emails directed to the Third Street email address, and by hand delivery of information.
The public input data was provided to the Transportation Commission for review prior to their meeting on January 25th. At that meeting the Commission discussed the input received, the advantages and disadvantages of each plan, and if the members were comfortable making a recommendation for the City Council. Also discussed were alternative approaches that varied from the three original plans developed by the Subcommittee. Of these alternatives, the one that received the most attention included the concept of standard bike lanes on each side of the Third Street rather than the Two Way Separated Bike Lanes concept in Plan C. For the sake of discussion, this option has been titled Plan D and Staff has created a supporting Plan D drawing. At the Commission meeting, and consistent with the public input received, the least supported plans were A and B. Plan C was considered the front runner, but concerns were expressed over maintenance activities, turning movement conflicts, and general understanding of how to enter and exit the separated lanes. The maintenance concerns primarily related to snow removal and street sweeping. The placement of the lane separation buffer seven to eight feet off the north curb line precludes snow plowing operations from accessing the entire street section and may result in decreased lane widths during heavy snow periods. Alternative methods of street maintenance have been discussed in depth, but significant challenges remain for operations with the Plan C concept. The issue of turning movements and potential conflicts between bikes in the bike lanes and cars in the vehicle lanes all entering the cross street intersections at the same time caused some consternation for the Commission. A suggestion was made to consider hiring a consulting firm which specializes in bicycle facilities to assess proposed Plan C to determine the best approach to implement it in a safe and functional manner. In the end, the Commission approved a recommendation to implement Plan C. This recommendation was made with recognition that a full description of the advantages and disadvantages of each plan be presented to the City Council and that an assessment of the viability of Plan C by a consultant would be beneficial.
PARKINGThe selection of Plan C for the corridor will include the removal of parking along portions of the Corridor. As the existing parking areas are not marked for individual stalls, the quantity of parking removed is only an estimate, but it is anticipated that approximately 120 parking spaces will be removed. BICYCLE FACILITIESIn June 2016, the City Council adopted the 2016 Bike Routes and Facilities Plan. This was the culmination of several years of work by staff, the Transportation Commission, and the MMTP consultant to develop a new on-street bicycle network for the City of Moscow. The Plan includes the installation of new facilities on Third Street between Washington Street and Mountain View Road. Plan C includes Separated Two Way Bike Lanes along the north side of Third Street from either Washington Street or Jefferson Street to Mountain View Road.TRAFFIC CONTROL/STOP CONTROLMost intersections along the corridor have stop control on the side street approaches. All of the proposed Plans developed by the Transportation Commission and considered by the City Council included the implementation of four way stop control at the Hayes Street and Blaine Street intersections with Third Street.SCHOOL ZONE/ CROSSING GUARDSHistorically the Lena Whitmore School Zone boundary on Blaine Street was located just north of the Third Street intersection and the School Zone did not include any of Third Street. The School Zone was expanded in 2012 to start on Blaine Street south of Third Street and includes a portion of Third Street. The Moscow School District provides crossing guards at the intersection of Blaine Street and Third Street.The existing School Zone location was considered during the Corridor Assessment, and no changes to the School Zone or the crossing guard program are proposed. Time activated Warning Lights will be installed on the School Zone Signage along Third Street to raise awareness of drivers that they are entering a school zone with a reduced speed limit.SIDEWALKS/PEDESTRIAN FACILITIESA review of the current sidewalk system completeness and condition was performed as part of the Corridor Assessment. The completion of the system on both sides of Third Street was included as a component of all Plans developed. This will consist of approximately 1,200 feet of new or replacement sidewalks, primarily along the eastern portion of the Corridor. In addition, raised pedestrian crosswalks across Third Street will be installed in three high pedestrian use locations throughout the Corridor.