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Agendas and Minutes

Transportation Commission (View All)

Transportation Commission

Agenda
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ASHLAND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION

MINUTES

NOVEMBER 20, 2013

 

CALL TO ORDER:  Chair David Young called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

 

Commissioners Present:  Joe Graf, Shawn Kampmann, Craig Anderson, David Chapman and David Young

Commissioners Absent: Corinne Viťville

Ex officio Present:  Steve MacLennan

Staff Present:  Scott Fleury, Mike Faught and Tami De Mille-Campos

Council Liaison Present:  Carol Voisin

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

None

 

PUBLIC FORUM

Dan Thorndike, 369 Granite Street. He wanted to introduce himself to the Commission. He was just appointed to the statewide ODOT bicycle/pedestrian policy advisory committee. It will start up in December and go for the next year to two years.

 

ACTION ITEMS

 

Road Diet Public Survey

Eva Skuratowicz, Director of the Southern Oregon University (SOU) research center

Eva spoke to the highlights of the report (see report included in meeting packet). SOU was hired by the City to conduct a scientific public opinion survey on the residents of Ashland and to do interviews with local businesses about the reconfiguration. They did a random sampling which obtains a full spectrum of opinions. She pointed out she received phone calls from people interested in doing the survey and she had to tell them that if they did not receive the survey in the mail that they were not able to participate. The 1000 households were stratified by location. They were put into 3 groups; the target area, which were those households right along the North Main corridor, the North Main area just outside of the corridor, and the last group was Ashland households outside of those other two areas. Overall, there was a response rate of 55%, a response rate of 66% from the target area, a response rate of 88% from the North Main area, and a response rate of 48% from the rest of Ashland. The trends in what they found include:

 

         Most of the people feel that the driving speed has been reduced along the North Main corridor.

         There is an observation of more congestion.

         ĺ of the respondents say that they still use North Main Street.

         The perception is overall, safety has increased.

         There were mixed results regarding traffic flow.

         As far as the time it takes most people felt like it took longer than before.

         Merging and turning was mentioned most in the open ended comments. There is a weak positive opinion on the statement ďoverall do you agree that the changes have improved North Main Street?Ē It was almost exactly split between agrees and disagrees.

 

50 businesses were selected for the phone interview survey and they were able to contact 38 of those businesses.

 

         Overall customers did not talk to the businesses regarding the road changes.

         The businesses who receive deliveries had a strong opinion, increased delivery times.

         Customer safety was a concern due to turning onto Main Street.

 

Open City Hall Review

Kim Parducci, PE PTOE, Southern Oregon Transportation Engineering, LLC

She went over some of the highlights of the 273 Open City Hall responses that came in through the end of October, 2013:

         51% felt it was safer for pedestrians.

         70% felt it was safer for bicycles.

         84% felt that the speed had reduced.

         33 % had changed their driving habits. 

         36% felt the side street traffic had changed.

         68% expressed positive feelings regarding the road diet.

 

Commissioner Chapman asked if she had grouped any of the comments together to see if there was a common theme.

 

Parducci stated that she did go through the comments and group them together. The common issues mentioned were; transitioning from the beginning and the end, congestion, and being able to turn from the side streets onto Main Street. There were also a lot of comments from people who felt like the road configuration should have never been changed based upon the amount of cyclists/pedestrians they see using the road.

 

Commissioner Kampmann asked if the results were subjective.

 

Parducci stated that they are subjective because some of the responses werenít 100% clear so she had to use her best judgment to classify them, sometimes placing it as a N/A response.

 

Cynthia Barnard, 128 Wimer. She lives approximately a block and a half from the Wimer/Main Street intersection. She is very happy with the realignment of Wimer. She appreciates the road diet very much and is speaking on behalf of herself and several of her neighbors, none of which received the random survey. She feels that the ability to turn onto Wimer is greatly improved with the reconfiguration. She wanted to pass along positive feedback on behalf of her neighborhood. They do take an alternate route over to Maple when they need to turn left onto Main because it allows for much safer turning. She stated that the traffic is slower but it is much more controlled.  

 

John Billock, 777 Palmer Road. His use of the roadways in Ashland are basically Siskiyou Blvd. and North Main out of town and Hwy. 66. When the road diet began he stepped back and analyzed his feeling from a safety standpoint as a driver and a bicyclist/pedestrian. He stated that prior to the road diet North Main was not a very safe road for all modes of transportation. He is very supportive of the road diet.  

 

Dan Thorndike, 369 Granite Street. He has been a resident on Granite for 30 years. He has been a regular user of North Main both as a driver and as a cyclist. It is a difficult road with or without the road diet, with an unlimited budget one might tear up the entire road and start over but that isnít possible. He stated that he is definitely in favor of the road diet. It could use some tweaks in regards to merge areas, refuge lanes etc. He always felt threatened as a cyclist and the current configuration is a huge improvement. Prior to the road diet he rarely used Main Street coming back into town and now he probably comes into town more often than leaving town. He pointed out that as a driver he was always afraid to make a left turn prior to the road diet.

 

Sharon Harris, 155 Fifth Street. She just wanted to share her support of the road diet for bicycle and auto safety reasons. She wonders if by congestion people mean that they have to slow down and she wonders if safety shouldnít outweigh someone being in a hurry to get somewhere.

 

Gary Shaff, 516 Herbert Street. He encourages the commission to look at making some improvements to the current configuration to make it work well, as well as the City recommending that the current configuration continue all the way to Rapp Road in Talent. He stated that both ODOT and the City of Talent both support that extension.

Elizabeth Zell, 250 Scenic Drive. She stated that she is a cyclist and driver. She participated in the bicycle counts. She is very supportive as a cyclist and as a driver. She is an avid cyclist and has observed that traffic is running smoothly. She feels that that the issue with left turns from the side streets could be alleviated if drivers would leave a gap between the car in front of them. They have done a lot of traveling and she has been more aware of other towns throughout Oregon that also have road diets.

 

Philip Gagon, 399 Morton Street. He looked at the road diet from a national perspective. Throughout the Country bicycling is increasing at a very high rate and he sees it only increasing in the future. Terratrike is a manufacturer of recumbent trikes/bicycles. The sales last year were 87% more over the previous year which is illustrative of what is likely to continue.   

 

Post Construction Engineering Analysis Review

Parducci stated that her role related to this road diet was to monitor the road diet for one year. She collected the technical and feedback data.

 

Monthly data collection since January of 2013 included:

         Side street delays during the PM peak hour (seconds per vehicle)

         Side street queue lengths during the PM peak hour (number of vehicles waiting at any one time)

         Main Street delays and queue lengths during the PM peak hour

         Intersection level of services during the PM peak hour (A-F)

         Available gaps on Main Street for side street traffic during the PM peak hour

         Average travel times during the AM and PM peak hours

         85th percentile speeds

         Average daily traffic (ADT) volumes

 

Quarterly data collection since January of 2013 included:

         Side street average daily traffic volumes

         Side street delays during the AM peak hour (seconds per vehicle)

         Side street queue lengths during the AM peak hour (number of vehicles waiting at any one time)

 

Crash Data-

From a safety standpoint they compared the crash data. The North Main Street corridor experienced an average of 12 accidents per year from 2002-2012. The location with the highest occurrence during that 10 year period was at the stop-controlled intersection of Wimer/Hersey/Main Street, where there was an average of 3.9 per year from 2002-2012. Under the current configuration there have been 2 reported crashes along the North Main Street corridor neither of those occurring along the intersection of Wimer/Hersey/Main Street.

 

Pedestrian/Bicycle Activity-

There were some corrections to the original pedestrian/bicycle counts and those pages have been updated in the packet.

 

Pre and post counts were done to monitor pedestrian/bicycle activity along the North Main Street corridor. These counts were conducted at the intersections of Laurel/Main, Hersey/Wimer/Main, and Maple/Main (see attached table 1 for results).

 

Kim noted that not only did she observe an increase in activity but she also observed a difference in the range of people utilizing the bike lanes. From a Traffic Engineerís standpoint she doesnít necessarily look at the number of people but rather the nature of who is using the bike lanes.

 

85th Percentile Speed-

Before implementation of the road diet the 85th percentile speed on North Main Street was measured to be 31 miles per hour (mph) northbound and 32 mph southbound at a location just North of Coolidge. Since January of 2013 the 85th percentile speed has been measured each month at the same location for comparison purposes and has been consistently slightly lower (1-2 mph lower in each direction). The 85th percentile speed in September of 2013 was measured to be 30mph northbound and southbound.

 

 

Corridor Travel Times-

Travel times were measured along North Main Street between Valley View Road-Maple Street and Maple Street-Helman Street in both directions before implementation of the road diet. Travel times continued to be measured each month since January of 2013 for comparison purposes (see attached table 2 for results).

 

Intersection Level of Service-

Traffic operations were evaluated at key intersections along North Main Street before implementation of the road diet and estimated for post-road diet conditions. Intersection operations have been evaluated each month since January of 2013 at the most critical intersection (Wimer/Hersey/Main) and in August and September of 2013 at all other intersections for comparison purposes (see attached tables 3/4 for results).

 

Corridor Queuing-

Queuing is the stacking up of vehicles for a given lane movement. Queue lengths are reported as the average, maximum, or 95th percentile queue length to the nearest 25-foot increment. Each 25-foot increment represents a single vehicle. 95th percentile queue lengths were measured at key intersections prior to the road diet and estimated for post-road diet conditions (see attached table 5 for results).

 

Stopped Delay-

The stopped delay is the delay in seconds a vehicle waits in a stopped position (normally at a stop sign on a side street) to make a maneuver onto another roadway (normally the mainline). Data was collected at the intersection of Hersey/Wimer/Main Street every month since January of 2013 and at other intersections within the corridor when requested (see attached table 6 for results).

 

Proposed Design Changes-

         Adding a northbound left turn lane at Bush Street

         Restriping the southbound left turn pocket at Glenn Street to be a center two-way-left-turn-lane

         Re-aligning driveways on North Main Street just north of Maple Street to eliminate conflicting left turn movements

         Improving sight distance at intersections to increase visibility for side street traffic

         Adding a crosswalk on North Main Street between signalized intersections of Laurel/Main and Maple/Main

         Reducing pedestrian walk times to minimums at signalized intersections to decrease traffic flow disruption on North Main Street during peak periods.

 

From a technical and livability standpoint, North Main Street operates better as a 3-lane facility than it did as a 4-lane facility. The only unknown is how long North Main Street can continue to function better as a 3-lane facility than as a larger facility. The average daily traffic (ADT) on North Main Street was shown to fluctuate between 18,100 Ė 20,700 ADT over a 10-month period, which is at the high end of whatís generally shown to provide a benefit to a system, but throughout the evaluation period the data has continued to show that it works regardless of being over the threshold. Based on this, the recommendation for North Main Street is to leave the road diet in place, but not make any permanent (installation of concrete, neck down lanes to make them narrower etc.) changes which allows for flexibility for emergencies, special events, or sudden changes in traffic patterns (for the full recommendation and conclusion please see the attached assessment).

 

Faught asked Parducci to clarify the data regarding the ADT threshold.

 

Parducci explained that other Cities that she looked at were upwards of 26,000 ADT and still functionally operating.

 

Commissioner Kampmann stated that Kittleson previously stated that they felt like the road diet wouldnít work 20 or so years out and he wonders when Parducci thinks it may begin to fail.

 

Parducci pointed out that even in months with the highest ADTís they operated better than months when the ADTís were lower but it is very hard to project when the road diet will begin to fail based on ADTís, traffic pattern changes, increased side road traffic etc. The ADT threshold is subjective. This is why she recommends keeping the road diet but not making any permanent changes.

 

Commissioner Anderson asked if it was reverted back to the 4 lane configuration how the realignment of Hersey/Wimer would function.

 

Parducci explained that if that happened you would have all of the people northbound & southbound on Main Street sitting in one of the through lanes trying to make a left turn out of the side streets and then you would have your side street traffic having two lanes to pull into but three lanes to pull across to try to make turns off of the side streets. Basically you would go back to having what is considered a defacto left turn lane in both directions. When you have a lot of turns in one of the through lanes it becomes a defacto turn lane so in a sense you only have one through lane. She thinks if we went back to the 4 lane configuration you would see a higher rise in crashes at that intersection, higher delay on the side street and the intersection failing as it was before. The next step if you did that would be looking at a signalized intersection which may not be a good solution either.

 

Commissioner Anderson stated that originally when the road diet was presented Manzanita and other side streets, mainly uphill of Main Street, were a concern because residents feared they would be used as a substitute for people trying to avoid other streets that were more difficult to make the left turns onto Main. He asked what she found regarding increased traffic on Manzanita and other side streets.

 

Parducci stated that they put tubes out on the side streets over a three day period. The tube count at Manzanita (between North Main and High Street) showed an average increase of one car per day. Coolidge (between North Main and Rock) increased by an average of ninety cars per day. Van Ness (between North Main and Skidmore) increased by an average of one hundred nine cars per day. There were also streets that had decreases. Laurel (between North Main and Central) had a decrease. Central (between Main and Laurel) had a decrease.  Van Ness (between North Main and Skidmore on a different section) had a decrease. She estimated that it was about a 10% increase on side street traffic overall.

 

Commissioner Anderson asked what Parducciís opinion is on the southern end operationally. As a cyclist he feels it isnít ideal. It would be nice to see more width. He wonders if anything can be done to help with that.

 

Parducci stated that they looked at that throughout the road diet and the problem is that you have a significant amount of traffic at Helman. If that is reduced to one lane then you will see significant increases in queue lengths. She spoke to ODOT regarding this and they indicated that they had done some work out there previously and had it necked down to one lane and during that time they saw a significant increase in queue lengths so they are hesitant to make any changes. The Commission pointed out, that is northbound that she is referring to not southbound. She stated that she hadnít really looked at that. Most complaints received were regarding the northbound transition. Faught feels we need to do a better job of communicating how cyclists should use the sharrows.

 

Commissioner Chapman stated that at some point he would like the commission to consider adding pedestrian crossings at North Main.     

 

Commissioner Kampmann asked if the traffic counts that were being conducted were counting traffic in both directions.

 

Fleury stated that the counts were multi directional and were done on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

 

Parducci pointed out that there were also traffic counts conducted at Oak to see if people were possibly using Eagle Mill as an alternate route. The counts were higher in the beginning but lowered back down. She also stated that overall, as side street traffic increased traffic on Main Street would also increase so they came to the conclusion that the overall side street traffic saw only a slight increase.  

 

Commissioner Kampmann doesnít understand the need for the change at Bush Street.

Faught stated that when you have a left hand turn movement there it ends up being in competition with the merge area.

 

Parducci stated that they had several complaints regarding it being dangerous so they went out and did counts and within a 2 hour period there were 18 northbound left turn movements, 28 eastbound lefts off of Bush. It isnít a huge number but it does need to be safer.

 

Commissioner Graf stated that he hears people complaining about turning off of side streets into Main. He asked about whether or not it is considered safer to turn onto 1 lane in each direction versus 2 lanes in each direction. He also mentioned the safety issues with the Doctorís offices near Maple. He stated that it has always been hazardous even before the road diet.

 

Parducci stated that it is much safer the fewer lanes you have to travel across.

 

Faught stated that they are in ongoing talks with the medical offices regarding moving the entrances to Maple and close those entrances to Main Street.

 

Graf asked about RVTDís responses regarding the busses having to stop in the travel lane.

 

Faught stated that after Eva did the phone survey with them there was a follow up email to clarify their stance. The bus has to pull slightly over into the bike lane and vehicles can go around if there is sufficient space to do so.

 

Chair person Young thanked Parducci for all of her diligence. 

 

Chapmann/Anderson motioned that the transportation commission recommends the continuation of the 3-lane configuration on North Main. The goal of this multimodal project was to provide safe and comfortable options to ALL users. After evaluating the collected engineering data and comments from the public, we find that criteria have been met for continuation. There are several design and operational changes that may improve the function of the project and also address concerns from our residents. We recommend exploring these changes. NO: Kampmann; YES: Graf, Anderson, Chapman and Young. Motion passes.

Discussion: Chapman pointed out that at some point he would like to discuss some additional changes that werenít addressed in the road diet, Ashland Mine Road is one of them. Commissioner Graff mentioned that this motion does not preclude adjustments from being made by staff and Council. Chair person Young stated that the single most issue was that something needs to be done about North Main but we always felt we were at the behest of ODOT. This pilot represents that the goals of making North Main safer and multi modal have been met. He agrees that there is room for further improvement. Commissioner Anderson stated that for years the Hersey/Wimer intersection was one of the worst intersections in the County and he doesnít think we could go back to the pre-road diet configuration and still take advantage of that realignment.

Faught noted that this recommendation will now be forwarded to the Council for their final consideration. 

 

Kampmann/Graf motioned that the original motion be amended to include Parducciís recommendation that permanent facilities not be installed. YES: Kampmann; NO: Graf, Anderson, Chapman and Young. Motion fails.

Discussion: Kampmann thinks itís important for emergencies or big events. Young agrees with the concept but does not like the wording of the motion which includes the word permanent. Chapman doesnít want to put a constraint on it. Andersonís main concern is Maple north to the rail road crossing. There is a lot of unutilized space with the amount of pavement. He would like to see some beautification projects completed along the corridor, such as landscaping which is why he doesnít want to preclude that with this motion.

 

FOLLOW UP ITEMS

APS homing sound/inconsistencies Ė It was found that there was a manufacturing defect on the Polera buttons. All of the buttons have been resupplied and installed except the 8 buttons left to be replaced at the Wightman/Ashland intersection. They also extended the warranty on the buttons.

 

Idling ordinance - The Commission overall recommends not pursuing it.

 

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS

Action Summary

Making an Impact October Newsletter

Traffic Crash Summary

 

Voison left the meeting at 8:08 pm.

 

COMMISSION OPEN DISCUSSION

Commissioner Kampmann would like to see a future agenda item for Siskiyou Boulevard (Whitman) in front of SOU. He would also like to see an agenda item for signaling at the pedestrian crossings (metering the signal).

 

Commissioner Anderson stated that after going through the Normal Avenue neighborhood plan he would like to see future discussion with the Transportation Commission regarding potential funding mechanisms (advanced financing districts, SDCís, LIDís etc.) related to transportation and the overall issue of financing large projects (i.e. who is going to pay for these costs). Long term funding options need to be explored.

 

Fleury pointed out that there is going to be a SDC working group starting up soon that will be going over the SDCís city wide which is an important component. There is also an upcoming cost of service study being conducted on the transportation user fee analysis. The transportation user fee would definitely be brought back to the Transportation Commission for further discussion. As the groups move along updates would be brought back to the commission.

 

The Commission expressed disappointment with the Normal Avenue Neighborhood plan process and felt they were left out until the very end. There was no consensus and some of the Commissioners feel like maybe they should have just voted against the proposal with one option having been to go back to the drawing board and recreate it and they agree it was too late to go that route.

 

Commissioner Chapman stated that part of the code that started this Commission talks about Planning and Land use because the Planning Commission didnít want to take on transportation planning but in regards to the Normal Avenue plan the Transportation Commission was left out until the end and the commission expressed disappointment in that process.

 

Commissioner Anderson stated that he feels like it is the Transportation Commissionís responsibility to look out for the City as a whole and the cherette process took into account primarily just the neighborhood itself.

 

Faught stated that the group does have the option of continuing the discussion of the Normal Avenue plan if they should desire. He also wanted to point out that he does not support the single access point onto East Main Street. If Council should approve annexation this is a plan of what the transportation element should look like and then when a type three developments come in it would come back in front of the Transportation Commission for further approval related to costs etc. He is pleased that we are looking at the transportation system in advance of anybody coming in with a development proposal. He pointed out that these types of developments should be planned out in advance rather than in isolation which creates issues down the road.

 

Questions were raised regarding the traffic engineers data/analysis.

 

 Faught stated that he could have another engineer look at this plan if the Commission wanted to go that route. He stated that he could get a cost estimate for Parducci to do an analysis.

 

The Commission agreed to leave their recommendation as it stands and let the Planning Commission proceed accordingly. Faught pointed out that he will be recommending adding additional access points along East Main Street.

 

Commissioner Chapman would like to have someone take a look at the multi use path that goes from Tolman Creek to Walker (from SOU). There is an issue with the tree roots coming up along the South side of Siskiyou.

 

FUTURE AGENDA TOPICS

Orange Ave. corridor discussion

Transportation Safety Public Outreach 

SOU Multi-Modal Future

Lithia and 3rd Intersection Analysis

Iowa St. 20mph zone

 

ADJOURNMENT

Meeting adjourned at 8:58 pm

Respectfully submitted,

Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant

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