ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
February 3, 2016
CALL TO ORDER The meeting was called to order at 3:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 East Main St.
Regular members present: Pam Hammond, Dave Young, Cynthia Rider, Marie Donovan, Lynn Thompson, Michael Dawkins, John Williams and Emile Amarotico (arrived at 4:02)
Regular members absent: Lisa Beam, Joe Graf, John Fields, and Joe Collonge
Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Katharine Cato, Michael Faught, Lee Tuneberg, Sandra Slattery and Pam Marsh (arrived at 4:29)
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Bill Molnar, Mike Gardiner, and Rich Rosenthal
City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos
Corrine Vieville, a Transportation Commissioner, had an accessibility request for the committee members to announce their names. The committee went around the room and announced their names and affiliations.
Huelz Gutcheon, 2253 Hwy 99
He presented his understanding of transportation, which he divided into four components: transportation, recreation, exercise, and socialize. Transportation as way of getting safely from point A to point B; recreation being when one feels good and wants to coordinate an activity; exercise is a discipline; and socialize, being a social activity, whether in a vehicle or while walking or biking. He expressed concern regarding the comparable safety.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes of January 6, 2016
Make the distinction between Rick Williams versus John Williams. Approved as corrected.
Mike Faught congratulated the committee on the work they have done thus far with the parking component. The strategy he is recommending to the committee for the multi-modal component is that a lot of the multi-modal projects that are being recommended are already in the Transportation System Plan (TSP). His recommendation is rather than going and hiring a separate Transportation System Planner like they did with Rick Williams and the parking component, letís discuss those projects amongst the committee and see if they meet the needs and have Kim Parducci who is a Transportation Engineer talk about the design details. There are a few additional projects that Kim and our Engineering Manager have been working on in the downtown area that are being recommended in the downtown that will be presented at todayís meeting. Once the multi-modal component is wrapped up he would like to incorporate it into the parking plan and have one final document for parking and multi-modal. Then, the ďnewĒ committee would work on prioritization and implementation. The other option is to go hire a Transportation Planner and work through additional options with the committee but when he looks at the TSP he thinks capital & multi-modal projects were covered pretty well.
TSP DOWNTOWN PROJECT LIST
Kim Parducci, Southern Oregon Transportation Engineering said her and Faught had discussed the best way to move forward. She said much like Rick Williams did with the parking component; she is going to walk them through the recommended downtown multi-modal projects.
Young pointed out for the record, he along with Faught and Hammond participated in the TSP process.
These projects address access management, alternative mobility standards, intersection improvements, streetscape improvements, and roadway extensions and connections.
R5 Ė This project is on the outskirts of the downtown area, at the intersection of Lithia and East Main. Itís a safety project that was identified to improve the visibility of the signal heads and also some traffic calming measures to reduce speeds. This was considered a high priority project in the TSP.
R11- Installation of a traffic signal at Lithia Way and Oak Street. The TSP looked at two intersections in the downtown that did not operate within the standards in the future year. Lithia/Oak and Main/Oak both were shown as failing critical movements (service level F) and both of them had signal warrants that were done. And as a result of that, the Lithia Way/Oak Street intersection was recommended for signalization. At this intersection the comments that they get pretty frequently have to do with not just a failing facility in terms of vehicle movement but also the conflict between the pedestrians and vehicles. Signalization would improve that for pedestrians and vehicles. Hammond pointed out that intersection is really dark too, at night it is especially difficult to see pedestrians.
R24- Is a road improvement project that connects both ends of Clear Creek Drive, just past the railroad tracks in an area of new development. It also ties in with three other projects that are being discussed today ( a multi-use path, a railroad crossing and a trail).
X1- Fourth Street at grade railroad crossing for pedestrians and bicycles that connects into Clear Creek Drive. Faught pointed out that it was originally proposed to be an automotive/multi-modal crossing and part of the dilemma was that in order to get approval for a new crossing you have to eliminate an existing crossing. At one point they discussed eliminating the crossing at Glenn Street and that creates a lot of controversy. When he first came to work for the City he had talked with ODOT railroad about going pedestrian only and at least we wouldnít have to eliminate other crossings. Since then he has spoken to them again and it seems to be a moving target. Theyíre now saying that even a pedestrian only crossing has similar requirements. So what he thought was a great strategy in 2011-2012 seems to be changing and becoming more restrictive. If it gets to a point where a crossing ends up needing to be eliminated then that would be something the community would want to weigh in on.
These primarily include all sidewalk improvements, sidewalk connections, multi-use paths, trails, unmarked/marked signalized pedestrian crossings.
P17- This is the Beaver Slide sidewalk and this project is actually going to be discussed later on in the meeting as an additional project but the one in the TSP addresses adding a pedestrian sidewalk down the beaver slide and connecting to Water Street. Right now it is a steep path for vehicles but doesnít accommodate pedestrians, bicycles and doesnít accommodate anyone with a disability.
P18- A Street sidewalk in fill. There are 3 portions along A Street. This particular project listed in the TSP is from 3rd to 4th Street and Oak to 1st Street. The additional section is on A Street between 5th and 6th Street.
P64- Is a sidewalk project on Water Street from B Street to Van Ness. It is a narrow roadway with walls on one side which could cause it to be difficult to install sidewalks and they might need to come up with some ideas about providing some off street parking where the wall is and meandering a sidewalk out in order to get a sidewalk in there. It is something they still need to look at to see if that will work.
P72- Is another sidewalk project and it is an infill on C Street between 4th and 5th Streets.
Donovan asked about how the projects were ranked in terms of high, medium, low priority? Parducci said the way they prioritized these in this TSP were the high priority projects were those expected within the next 5 years, the medium priority projects were those expected within 5-15 years and the low priority projects were those expected within 15-25 years. However, in talking to Faught a lot of the low priority projects have actually been done. Faught added that the TSP has to be financially constrained and so only the projects that are in the high and medium categories actually made it into the recommendations within the TSP. With that said, that doesnít limit them on doing other projects. These are just projects within the TSP but the TSP was done without consideration of parking strategies and that is why they are recommending when they finish this part that they tie them all together in the downtown plan. Once Council approves the plan then the future group would begin to work on strategies to implement these and the projects would be tied together within any section they are working on. As these parking strategies are implemented these sidewalk projects will be important and that is why they recommend lumping them together. Parducci said as she was going through this list she was making a point of the priority but then she stopped because it looks like these are going to be re-prioritized anyway, according to where we want to see parking implemented. At that point, the connections will probably be the higher priority.
These projects include bicycle boulevards, shared roadways with shoulders or sharrows. With our bicycle boulevards or shared roadways most of the time sharrows are used. Sharrows are painted striping on the roadway; they are chevrons with a bicycle logo. It indicates that the road is being shared with bicycles and it also shows where the bicycles should be riding within the lane. The treatment on Oak Street and A Street has already been completed. However, B Street hasnít been completed yet and there are others outside of the downtown area that havenít been completed as well.
B13- Bicycle boulevard on B Street that extends from Oak Street to North Mountain. It would be similar to whatís already been implemented on A Street and Oak Street. This one was set as a high priority and hasnít been completed yet. Young noted there is no standard for bicycle boulevards. Some cities have bicycle boulevards that allow cars but they are designed with a leading bicycle. When the conception of a bicycle boulevard was done in the TSP process for B Street it was done for the reasons that itís an important connector (safe routes to school, connects with the central Ashland path etc). There was no design element given for a bicycle boulevard during the TSP process.
B14- Bicycle boulevard on A Street has been completed and was identified in the TSP as a low priority. Young pointed out A Street kind of went to the shared road idea, there was a strong consensus that A Street operates well as it is (with the sharrows) and that it is naturally traffic calming because of the way cars and parking have to negotiate things. Several bicycle oriented people who were part of that process said that isnít a design that lends itself to a bicycle boulevard. Faught said he isnít sure he remembers it the same way Young does. He recalls a very lengthy conversation with the Transportation Commission and what they said was it could mean anything from a sharrow to a full bicycle boulevard. They went ahead and identified streets and listed them as bicycle boulevards without ever having the intention that they all would be full bicycle boulevards.
B17- Bicycle boulevard on Main Street. This proposal includes actual bicycle lanes. This project ties into the larger two lane to three lane conversion proposal.
B21- Bicycle boulevard on Oak Street which has already been completed with sharrows and is more of a shared roadway.
B34- Bicycle boulevard on 1st Street from A Street to Main Street.
TR3- New trail connection that ties into Clear Creek Road. A multi-use path from Hersey Street across Clear Creek and ties into the 4th Street multi-use path. All three of those paths are interrelated.
ADDITIONAL DOWNTOWN PROJECT RECOMMENDATIONS
These proposed projects have come up between staff and a lot of them have been driven by citizen complaints.
Beaver slide- This recommendation includes eliminating the beaver slide for vehicular access. This has been talked about for quite a while because it is steep, itís one way, and when you get down to the bottom it is hard to see especially with parking on both sides of Water Street. There arenít a lot of vehicles on the Beaver slide so they arenít necessarily proposing this because of volume but there is enough volume on it that it does contribute to a problem on Water Street because the intersection of Water Street and Main Street is a difficult intersection to get out of which did result in a fatality a few years back. By eliminating this for vehicular traffic it eliminates about 82 peak hour trips which is about 900 daily trips. It accounts for about 67% of traffic that contributes to the Water/Main Street intersection. This project ties into the TSP project with adding the sidewalks. In this project they would implement the TSP project and eliminate the cars at the same time.
Slattery mentioned that there was a previous discussion regarding eliminating the signal just past the beaver slide at Helman Street. She wonders if those additional 900 daily trips that would be rerouted from the beaver slide would cause an issue if the Helman signal were to be removed in the future. Parducci said they have modeled that along the loop road and it doesnít appear to cause any issues. With the 3 lane to 2 lane conversion there will be the two lanes going through Main Street and then on Lithia Way there will be one lane dedicated to through traffic and one lane dedicated to the loop road. She said it is a little hard to envision in pieces but the whole plan will be presented to this committee either at the March or April meeting. They would like to bring the model in so the committee can see how it all runs. The committee will actually be able to see the model with and without the Helman signal. The one thing that is difficult to model is the pedestrian aspect and accurately see how pedestrians maneuver across. They have been working with ODOT on this and they were trying to make sure they are on board with this before rolling it out to everyone so that has been the holdup.
Lynn Thompson voiced concern regarding the safety of pedestrians as you are doing that loop. She generally doesnít use the beaver slide so she will loop around and most of the time the driver is looking to see if traffic is coming at them but the pedestrians are coming from the north and it would be really easy for them to step out and the driver wouldnít be aware that they are there. She wonders if adding more traffic onto the loop will exacerbate the issue. The other concern she has is going across Main Street at the loop to go up Church Street. If traffic is flowing on Main Street the loop backs up and then once the light changes to red then the loop starts to clear but without the light there she wonders if that will cause issues. Faught said the model will help show the impacts.
Pioneer/Fork/Hargadine Mini Roundabout Concept- They have explored several different alternatives for this area. There is a high amount of pedestrian traffic, and Fork is steep coming down which causes sight distance restrictions on Hargadine and Pioneer. She has seen that a lot of people use Pioneer for a turn road; they climb up, circle around and go back down the hill. With this mini roundabout concept (15 foot diameter) it would require the vehicles to keep moving and it would take care of the sight distance issues because you would be able to enter closer to the intersection which would open it up so you could see better in all directions. It would also slow down the people coming down Fork Street. It wouldnít be a problem for trucks, as they modeled the roundabout with a fire truck and it made it around with no problem. If there was a vehicle that couldnít get around it such as a semi or a tour bus, they could go up and over the five inch raised edge in the center or find an alternate path.
Rider said OSF doesnít have a good pick-up and drop-off spot for their patrons but if they do something like this there may be something they can do along Hargadine to help eliminate that problem. Faught said we have some conceptual drawings that could be shared at the next meeting.
Williams asked if the City had ever considered a bridge from like the Thomas Theater over to the bricks to eliminate the pedestrian crossing problem. Rider said at one point they had taken a preliminary look at that.
A Street sidewalk and streetscape improvements- Parducci said we already spoke about A Street with the sharrows and the existing sidewalk sections that needed to be added but the other project is Public Works has a water and sewer project coming up on A Street. While that project is going on they thought it would be a good idea to incorporate a streetscape improvement. Streetscape improvements would include improvements that combine roadway with sidewalks, signage, lighting, landscaping or any kind of element which creates public space for pedestrians, residents and traffic. She envisions something along the lines of pavers, potted plants etc. The waterline project is from Oak to 7th Street and the sewer line project will be at the same time so most of the road will be torn up during those projects anyways. They figured while the road is going to be torn up they would incorporate some beautification and streetscape improvements. This is just a recommendation but it would be up to the future committee to finalize further details.
B Street striping/traffic control consistency and bicycle boulevard conformance- Parducci said staff and the Transportation Commission receive a lot of complaints from people that talk about B Street not being consistently striped. This project would include striping consistency, beefed up crosswalks and this project also includes a bicycle boulevard. There was discussion regarding design and the details of a bicycle boulevard. Faught said part of the detail work has yet to be done and sharrows are an effective way in the interim to allow us to share the facility. B Street is a long, straight stretch with no stop signs. Parducci said her and Scott Fleury (Public Works Engineering supervisor) have spoken multiple times about areas where people are concerned and would like to see a stop sign. Those locations that people have expressed interest are 4th/B Street and 8th/B Street. Faught asked if Parducci is looking at lighting as well. Parducci said anytime they look at pedestrian facilities they look at lighting. Young asked if residents are involved in those decisions regarding lighting because some residents donít want more lighting on their homes at night especially with the new LED lighting. Faught said we would work with the committee on lighting and before any changes are made we always invite the neighbors directly impacted to a meeting. Parducci expanded on what types of things they would look at regarding pedestrian facilities, they include: speeds, sight distance, lighting and consistency with signage/striping.
Lithia& 3rd Street intersection improvements- Parducci said this comes up frequently with citizens. 3rd Street is oriented in general north/south and Lithia Way is also sort of north/south but it is more north/west. Some issues at this intersection are, when you are on 3rd Street and trying to make a turn onto Lithia Way from the south your sie distance is restricted to your right because it is a skewed intersection and you canít see very well. She added it is the same situation when you are on the north approach of 3rd Street, looking southbound and trying to make the right turn out. Some of the proposed conceptual ideas include: removing a single parking spot along Lithia Way so that it opens it up a little better, moving stop bars further out into the intersection, taking the long/angular crosswalks and orienting them more 90 degree so they are shorter across Lithia Way, removing/relocating the one way driveway on Lithia just past 3rd Street.
Cato said this intersection is dangerous. Every morning coming down Lithia Way, she takes a left onto 3rd street and at least twice a week she has to honk at someone who is turning from 3rd Street onto Lithia Way because they are going to drive into her as they make their turn and cannot see traffic, nor her entering that intersection. Parducci said they looked at pushing that stop bar out but you canít because of the movement at that intersection. Cato said one idea to allow that would be to restrict the left turn onto 3rd Street.
Parducci wrapped up the projects that were being proposed and asked the committee for any additional projects that should be considered.
Rider said at one point Parducci had looked at Hargadine as you are coming up to Fork where itís called 1st Street but itís really a dirt alley. The discussion was regarding trying to divert some of the traffic that goes up Pioneer so they would go up and down 1st Street instead. Parducci wasnít sure off the top of her head why they didnít suggest that. Faught suggested pulling the notes on that and bringing it back to the committee. At the next meeting we will be looking at the Helman intersection, the three to two lane conversion with the modeling, and the TSP transit hub component.
Young wonders when the committee will get to sidewalk improvements for the sake of pedestrians, not just related to parking. Faught answered he remembers a long process during the TSP where those were identified throughout the whole city. The follow up question is are there any other recommendations outside of the TSP? He doesnít see a need to address any additional sidewalk widening projects in the downtown. He is working off the assumption that the Transportation Commission spent a lot of time working on this during the TSP process.
Slattery asked if they looked at pedestrian improvements on 4th Street between A and B Streets. Faught said every one of these specific projects will include looking at lighting, consistent crosswalks etc. Parducci said Fleury had made a list based on citizen complaints and 4th Street was on the list but they need to check what the reasons were for not bringing that recommendation to the committee.
Faught said one thing we didnít look at because we were looking at site specific parking/lighting/safe routes is maybe there is a bigger lighting project within the whole downtown area. He said it is really about how much money we have so we have to prioritize based on the recommended projects but he doesnít want to lose sight of the importance of sidewalks and lighting in the entire area. To get to that he thinks we will include a general statement saying that group will work on those but the target priority should be based on the routes for whatever parking strategies we have.
Faught mentioned that he met with a lot of the trucking agencies during the beginning of this process and he asked them if they were in charge of signage where would they put them and they actually provided their recommendations so he wants to make sure this plan incorporates that as well so there is efficient loading and unloading.
Slattery asked what area the transit hub is being proposed and would 4th Street be the connector. Faught said it is in the railroad district on the railroad property and currently the proposed crossing is a pedestrian only crossing into that district but the plan does specify that anything we do on the transit side should be tied into the parking side. At this point we donít know what the route is until we know the parking strategies. The transit route hasnít been designed in that area. The only future transit route within the TSP is route 8 which goes Oak Street across the new East Nevada bridge and over to the Helman area.
Marsh said when you talk about multi-modal this is the biggest pedestrian dead zone in the downtown (Lithia & 3rd Street). People typically avoid this intersection because it is difficult to figure out how to walk through safely and yet it leads into the core of the downtown. As this intersection is looked at it might be important to take a look at the pedestrian comfort aspect.
Faught asked Parducci if there is any thought to not having access to the parking lot just past the Lithia/3rd Street intersection. She said they talked about moving the crosswalk further to the north so it would be just beyond the parking lot. He has concern regarding the interaction between pedestrians and the parking lot ingress/egress.
Amarotico said by the time we get the two crosswalks angled at 90 degrees that is going to put the two crosswalks really close together, he wonders if this is an area where you would eliminate one and only have one crosswalk. Faught said he was just thinking the same thing. Dawkins said he uses that one all the time and Young said he does too. The 3rd Street crossing (on the north side) has visibility issues. He also pointed out that the Growler Guys (between 2nd and 3rd Street) is becoming immensely popular which is going to add to the problem. Faught said they will work more on this. Young agrees with Catoís earlier point of possibly eliminating the left turn from Lithia onto 3rd Street. He said there are a lot of people that use the crosswalk near the credit union and by eliminating the left turn and angling the crosswalk 90 degrees that would help with that. Faught likes the idea but said we have to be open to community feedback.
The next meeting will be held on March 2, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant