Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Joint Study Session

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

These minutes are preliminary and are pending approval.






July 26, 2011



Planning Commission Chair Pam Marsh called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.  

Planning Commissioners Present:


Transportation Commissioners Present:

Larry Blake

Micahel Dawkins

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller


Tom Burnham

Eric Heesacker

Steve Ryan

Julia Sommer

Colin Swales

Brent Thompson

David Young

Corrine Vieville

Absent Members:

Staff Present:

Melanie Mindlin

Shawn Kampmann

David Chapman, Council Liaison

Russ Silbiger, Council Liaison

Mike Faught, Public Works Director

Maria Harris, Planning Manager

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


1.  May 24, 2011 Joint Study Session Minutes.


Commissioners Dawkins/Blake m/s to approve the May 24, 2011 Joint Study Session Minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.



Marc Butorac and Erin Ferguson with Kittleson & Assoc. provided a presentation on the recommended improvements for specific intersections and locations throughout Ashland. The following are the recommended improvements and associated comments shared at the meeting.


Location: North Main Street/Wimer Street/Hersey Street Intersection

Recommendation: Realign intersection and install traffic signal.

Comments: It was questioned if the realignment would be necessary if the City implements the road diet alternative and restricts left turns. Ms. Ferguson clarified this is not an “either/or” situation and they could realign this intersection and still move forward with the road diet pilot.


Location: Main Street/Oak Street Intersection

Recommendation: Modify Lithia Plaza exit configuration and install traffic signal.

Comments: Several commissioners commented that the problem with this location is not the through lane exiting the Plaza onto East Main; but crossing East Main to Oak, and turning left from Oak onto East Main. Additional comments were made expressing concern with two traffic signals being placed within a block of each other. Suggestion was also made to consider one traffic lane that enters downtown and eliminating the couplet. Mr. Butorac stated signalizing this location would be the best solution to address crossing Main onto Oak and turning from Oak onto Main, and clarified the traffic signals can be timed to eliminate congestion. As for eliminating the couplet, he stated this has been looked at however the benefits of doing this may not outweigh the costs.


Location: Siskiyou Boulevard/Lithia Way/Main Street Intersection

Recommendation: Improve visibility of signal heads and install treatments to slow vehicles.

Comments: Comment was made that a roundabout at this location was deemed infeasible in 2002, however traffic counts have dropped since then and a roundabout might now work.   


Location: Siskiyou Boulevard/Tolman Creek Road Intersection

Recommendation: Conduct study, install speed reduction treatments, and install single lane roundabout.

Comments: Comment was made questioning the costs to the City for policing the speeding problem and whether issuing tickets is a revenue generator for the Police Department. Public Works Director Mike Faught clarified he would consult with the Police Chief about this question, but doubts this is a revenue generator. Several comments were made voicing support for a roundabout at this location.


Location: Ashland Street/East Main Street/Oak Knoll Drive Intersection

Recommendation: Realign intersection, install speed reduction treatments, and install single lane roundabout.

Comments: No comments were made.


Location: Oak Street/VanNess Avenue/A Street

Recommendation: Realign intersection.

Comments: Comment was made that this would be an expensive piece of property to purchase and this should be removed from the plan since it is unlikely to ever happen. Mr. Butorac warned against deleting this recommendation and stated this is a 20-year plan and things can change over time. He added they don’t want to lose the opportunity to do something they want just because it is currently financially infeasible.


Location: Siskiyou Boulevard/Sherman Street

Recommendation: Realign intersection.

Comments: Comment was made that this intersection is extremely hazardous for pedestrians because you can’t see the traffic signals. Support was voiced for addressing this intersection.


Location: Siskiyou Boulevard/Park Street

Recommendation: Realign intersection.

Comments: No comments were made.


Location: Siskiyou Boulevard/Terra Avenue/Faith Avenue

Recommendation: Realign intersection.

Comments: Mr. Butorac clarified that creating a perpendicular alignment for the intersection would require aligning both Terra and Faith, and noted the cost implications. As such, the recommendation is to adjust Faith Avenue and create an angled alignment with Siskiyou Boulevard.


Locations: Fourth Street and Washington Street

Recommendation: Pursue at grade railroad crossings.

Comments: No comments were made.


Location: Normal Street

Recommendation: Upgrade to public crossing.

Comments: No comments were made.


Locations: Glenn Street and Wightman Street

Recommendation: Potential closures (if needed).

Comments: Comment was made voicing support for closing these crossings only if it is deemed necessary. Additional comment was made expressing concern with closing the Wightman crossing because of how it might impact the schools on Walker Avenue.  Suggestion was made to pursue an overpass for bicycles and pedestrians at the west end of Nevada Street to get across the tracks and exit onto North Main.


Location: Main Street (Downtown)

Recommendation: Modify cross section as shown in Option B of the white paper.

Comments: Comment was made voicing support for Option C since it is the only option that creates a wider sidewalk. In addition, Option B has bicycles and delivery trucks sharing a lane and this could create a dangerous situation. Comment was made that trucks will ignore the loading zones and park wherever they want. Suggestion was made to designate the center lane for truck unloading and bicyclists. Mr. Butorac explained how the bike lanes would be striped to keep drivers out of this lane; and in regards to putting the bicycle/truck lane in the center, he stated this kind of configuration does not work well when there are lots of intersections (like downtown), and questioned if less experienced bicyclists would be comfortable riding in the center lane with traffic passing on both sides. Additional comment was made that using the center lane for trucks would require the delivery drivers to cross the travel lanes to unload their supplies. Suggestion was made to create incentives for trucks to do their deliveries early in the morning, make the unloading process more convenient for everyone, and not design our streets around this function. Mr. Butorac commented that both Options B and C would work, however Option C would be more expensive and while it looks good on paper they need to consider whether the benefits outweigh the costs. He added Option B can be done with paint, while Option C involves construction costs. Comment was made that many downtown merchants are trying to do business on the sidewalk, and it would behoove them to support expanding the sidewalks. Comment was made that Option B works if you are unloading a truck on the right side of the street, but what about the other side? Mr. Butorac stated trucks would likely double-park like they do today. He added it is clear there are a lot of opinions about the cross section and this is not something they will be able to resolve tonight.


Location: Lithia Way (Downtown)

Recommendation: Modify cross section to provide a striped buffer between the bicycle lane and vehicle travel lane.

Comments: Comment was made suggesting they consider two-way traffic on Lithia. Mr. Butorac stated this is do-able and there are some benefits, but the Transportation System Plan is not the tool to do it. He added to be effective, this would need to be a very public, business community driven process. He stated what they could do is include a future decoupling project in the plan as an option to study.

Location: Lithia Way/Oak Street

Recommendation: Monitor and install traffic signal.

Comments: Several comments were made supporting the installation of a traffic signal at this location.


Location: Ashland Street/ Sutton Place

Recommendation: Do not install roundabout.

Comments: Comment was made voicing support for a roundabout at this location rather than the Oak Knoll intersection. Mr. Butorac explained when they looked at the two locations, a roundabout at Oak Knoll would be more difficult to construct, but it would only impact vacant areas; while a roundabout at this location would require the removal of more structures. Comment was made voicing support for a roundabout at Oak Knoll and creating a sense of entry for that neighborhood.


Location: Main Street/Lithia Way/Helman Street

Recommendation: Do not install roundabout.

Comments: Ms. Ferguson explained this was previously identified as a potential roundabout location, but due to the impacts on existing buildings they are not recommending this project. Comment was made voicing support for leaving a smaller roundabout at this location on the table for consideration, especially if Lithia Way is decoupled.


Mr. Butorac briefly reviewed the items proposed to be excluded from the preferred plan, and asked the commissioners to review this list and let them know if there are any they feel strongly should be left in the plan. He reviewed the upcoming next steps, and asked that any further comments about the items reviewed tonight be forwarded no later than August 2.


Meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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