Opportunity Lost ... Or Just Delayed?
For Continued Sidewalk Improvements
City Had Only Limited Role In ODOT Project
* Sidewalks Were Not Primary Project Objective
* Sidewalk Funds Were Limited
* ADA Regulations Drove Decisions
* North-South Sidewalks Not Connected
* One Side Street Crossing Requires Crossing Main Twice
* Retaining Wall Elevation Solution Limited
* Project Completion At Least 7 Months Late
* Pedestrians Got Short End Of Stick
I've struggled with how to best approach what are technically small issues in the grand scheme of a massive project. The overall roadway project should be a significant improvement for vehicle traffic flow through Collinsville.
The side issues relate to what I first described as "poor human engineering" but now appears to instead be a bureacratic process preventing a more reasonable design for pedestrians (including students walking to the nearby Middle School). I'm choosing to not say much more in this part of the "editorial" and let you reach your own conclusions from the text and photos. I've also included a requested response from the city (below) that provides more insight.
It is my hope that the city can find a quick remedy to the sidewalk "mess" once ODOT and it's contractor leave town. I am holding off on saying more on the retaining wall impact on several property owners until I learn more. I've only spoken to one impacted property owner (who was clearly upset), but don't know yet how others feel. And it should be obvious that the city has many more sidewalks needing improvement that are in no way related to the S-Curve project.
want to mention that I do understand that a few extra degrees of slope
can create potentially dangerous situations to some in wheelchairs or
using walkers or blind, etc, but I suspect there were potential workaround
soultions that were not explored (that would have been ADA compliant)
in the rush to complete a project that was already months behind. I
also "get" that the goal of the regulations is to force everyone
to upgrade all sidewalks eventually but it is forcing some really poor
choices in the meantime.
July 26 -- To: Pam Polk (City Manager) / Phil Stowell (City Public Works Director),
I walked the nearly completed, mostly opened S-Curve/Main widening project this morning ... as I done many times in the past year. And although it will be celebrated by most as a great improvement (and I agree on the roadway itself) there will be a few (and I'm one of them) that are greatly disappointed in the poor human engineering and attention to detail on sidewalks and "destroyed" front yards. I plan to put that flavor of review on cvilleok in the next day or so and wanted you to at least have an opportunity to comment (before or after). I realize the city has had limited opportunity to drive the multi-headed process but suspect the city will get more than their share of the blame.
Will be building a photo page with examples but the biggest two sore points for me are lack of connection to exiting (or future) north-south sidewalks (and even no east-west sidewalk at 15th by Reynolds) plus the damage to functionality / propertyy values to the retaining wall victims.
-- Ted Wright -- July 26, 2012
RE: Good and bad news on Main Street/S-Curve
Please accept the following as city staffs response. Thanks!
The City has actually received far more sidewalks than what was included in the plans over two blocks worth plus an additional stretch that runs in front of the Lincoln Crest addition. These expensive additional sidewalks were agreed upon at the behest of city staff and kind consideration from O.D.O.T. As you mentioned there exists approach walks to residences as well as sidewalks on secondary streets that do not connect to the new concrete sidewalks. This is not a disregard of O.D.O.T. or the city ; it is due to A.D.A. (American Disabilities Act) compliance. A.D.A. regulations are very specific for width, grade, radius and slope of new public sidewalks. The existing sidewalks that do not connect to the new concrete could not meet the specifications to do so. As it was explained to city staff if O.D.O.T. were to connect to a non compliant sidewalk they would have to make the older sidewalk compliant. The need to adhere to the A.D.A. regulations besides being the law is to provide the best compliant grade, slope, and radius possible for those individuals that use wheel chairs and scooters. As I mentioned earlier Collinsville received a great deal more sidewalks than was originally planned and part of the fulfillment of the request was an understanding that such disconnect issues to older sidewalks were a possibility. City staff and Im sure many citizens agree that the new sidewalks that have the disconnect issues are better than no new sidewalks at all and that was the choice. Several residences have experienced a disconnect of their approach walk (the private sidewalk that goes to their front doors). This involves the same issue of A.D.A. compliance as well as a private property issue. O.D.O.T. would be required to have a written agreement allowing temporary access to work on private property and then replace the approach walks with A.D.A. compliant walks. Although city staff has received no official reason on why this possibility did not happen I would speculate that project time frame and costs would have been considered.
You mentioned a particular stretch of sidewalk at 15th by Reynolds. This section of sidewalk was one of the extra walkways mentioned earlier. No sidewalk was slated for this area in the original plans. As explained to city staff the only way one could be built would be to adhere to A.D.A. requirements and to do this would affect the path of travel. The grade / slope requirements could not be met going further to the east and thus pedestrian traffic had to be directed across Main Street and back onto the compliant sidewalks on the north side. I realize that this path of travel may sound odd to some or most but those are the rules O.D.O.T. must comply with and this was the only option to have sidewalks on the south side of Main Street in that area.
|Phil, Thanks for the quick reponse. It is a shame though when our government regulations that are intended to make things better end up making us do things that are clearly worse .. like a sidewalk that ends in the grass rather than connect or having to walk across the major traffic lanes twice just to cross a side street. I will be working on my photo page as I have time the next day or so and will include the city staff response. And I do want to mention that I do appreciate all the city staff has done to make improvements when possible in this lengthy process. --Ted (7/27/2012)|
Just read your editorial on the new S curve. I have noticed something that really bothers me on 19th street. They left the stop sign going south on 19th at Broadway. Why would they do that? The signs also still say 3 way stop. I see a chance for many wrecks there if they leave the south bound stop sign at 19th. It is almost the same as the old configuration. Wouldn't it make more sense to take out the south bound 19th St stop sign? Of course, I see the need for the west bound Broadway stop sign, but am at a loss to see the need for the south bound stop sign. Check it out.
Sheryl Witten (7/28/2012)
|Sheryl, I've added your comment on the editorial page (& copied to the city). I'll have to go take a look but my initial guess is that it lets the west bound Broadway traffic (needing to continue west) have an equal chance to get onto southbound 19th. -- Ted|
|I concur with the
comments made by Sheryl Witten re the common sense approach to removing
the south bound 'stop' sign at 19th & Broadway. As we travel what
used to be a 4-way intersection frequently, with the present configuration,
it doesn't seem to be much improvement over the old situation. What is
the point of having improved access to Main at 19th with a functional
stop light, which contributes to traffic moving more efficiently, when
a needed improvement such as the removal of the southbound 'stop sign'
at 19 & Broadway is not done? As with any change in life, it will
take a bit of 'retraining' the locals if the stop sign is removed, but
it will facilitate a smoother traffic flow to the stop light. I think
the majority of our residents would embrace this 'change'.
Overall the Main
Street improvements, namely the straightening of the S curve, has been
needed and talked about for many years. At last it is a reality but
as you have pointed out with your pictures and timely comments, several
problem areas still need attention by Mayor Weaver, the City Commission,
and ODOT. Hopefully, these 'problem' areas will be addressed in the
Susan & Mike Worstell (7/29/2012)