Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Joint Study Session

Thursday, February 10, 2011





February 10, 2011



Transportation Commission Chair Eric Heesacker called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.  


Planning Commissioners Present:


Transportation Commissioners Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

John Rinaldi, Jr.


Eric Heesacker

Steve Ryan

Brent Thompson

David Young

David Chapman, Council Liason

Julia Sommer


Absent Members:


Staff Present:

Melanie Mindlin, Planning Commission

Russ Silber, Council Liason to Planning Commission

Matt Warshawsky, Transportation Commission

Colin Swales, Transportation Commission



Michael Faught, Public Works Director

Maria Harris, Planning Manager

Jim Olson, Public Works

Bill Molnar, Community Development Director



1.  January 20, 2011 Joint Study Session Minutes.


Commissioners Dawkins/Blake m/s to approve the January 20, 2011 Joint Study Session Minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.



Erin Ferguson with Kittelson & Associates commented on the project’s status and then proceeded to discuss the comments and input received on the first group of white papers followed by the second group of white papers as noted below.


Comments and Input Received on White Paper Group #1:

Ms. Ferguson presented on the results of responses from White Paper Group #1.


Pam Marsh and David Young were two anonymous responses from PC/TC for round 1.


Review of Scorecard Input Regarding Road Diets

No comments from Commissioners.


Review of Scorecard Input Regarding Streetscape Patios

No Comments from Commissioners.


Review of Scorecard Input Regarding Other Modes of Transportation


Suggestion received through scorecard input to develop a bicycle map that includes information on steep grades.

·         David Chapman stated that since the bicycle map is already in GIS and it could easily be updated to have information regarding steep inclines.

·         Pam Marsh indicated that developing such a map seems like a no-brainer given the map already exists.


Suggestion received through scorecard input to provide a shuttle bus for riders up and down steep hills.

·         Michael Dawkins noted cost effectiveness is not likely to be achieved and there are other priorities that should be considered first.


Suggestion received through scorecard input to provide secure parking at the base of steep hills for residents who live on steep grades.

·         Pam Marsh noted that bicycle parking should be spread through the city and especially near transit regardless of the grade.

·         Debbie Miller asked about what type of parking would be provided and what would the cost be?  Can this information be provided?

·         Erin Ferguson responded that a menu of options can be outline for the City to consider and then identify based on the locations of interest which types of parking would be most amenable.

·         David Chapman noted providing bicycle parking could be a “double purpose” with providing bicycle parking for nearby businesses.


General Comments:

·         David Young noted that he observed a general positive response to many of the ideas proposed but encouraged the group to think critically and consider economic reality in terms of what could be realized in Ashland.


·         Erin Ferguson noted an upcoming stage of the TSP will look at “cost-constrained” recommendations and encouraged the group to hold onto ideas if necessary until that stage so that they are still considered.


·         Pam Marsh noted the bus system can only take 2 bicycles and often has to leave cyclists behind. Can options for more bicycles to be taken on buses be explored?


·         Erin Ferguson reviewed that among the Commissioners there was strong support for the updated bicycle map, moderate support for bicycle parking, and little support for the shuttle bus suggestion.


·         Mike Faught noted the shuttle bus was the lower cost alternative to topography constraints when compared to something like a funicular or gondola.


Suggestion received through scorecard input to consider in-street signs between lanes and signs or pavement markings for pedestrians to look both ways before entering:

·         Larry Blake indicated both options seem like good ones.

·         Julia Sommer expressed concern about how treatments were selected to move forward.  She indicated she would like landscape buffers to be moved in the TSP alternatives analysis process.

·         Erin Ferguson responded that landscape buffers would be part of the prioritized pedestrian treatments. 

·         Debbie Miller expressed interest in exploring blinking lights in-street to capture attention, particularly around schools.

·         Jim Olson explained the City had looked into those runway lights as a treatment several years ago; however, they are costly to maintain and have a relatively short life span.  The City’s they had talked to who had implemented them where going through a phase of removing them to their maintenance challenges.

·         Larry Blake stated he did not think they were any more deterrent than flashing beacons already in use in Ashland.


Review of Scorecard Input Regarding Offset Intersections


Erin Ferguson KAI will add the A Street - Van Ness/Oak Street intersection to the list of off-set intersections for further consideration.  This is a revision based on input from the City at the TAC Meeting conducted earlier in the day. 


John Rinaldi Jr asked what KAI thought were reasons for the lower than expected (68%) “definitely explore” response with regards the question of whether off-set intersections should be realigned only when a safety concern exists. Erin Ferguson noted that the relatively low response was probably related to how the question was worded. 


Steve Ryan asked about MMLOS and if or how future differences in traffic mix (i.e., increased truck freight movement) is accounted for in the method? Erin Ferguson explained that specific to MMLOS method the inputs that changed from existing to future no build analysis was the traffic volumes, but the detailed change in the mix of traffic was not.  Erin agreed that future changes will occur but the modeling tools or methods used in long range planning tend to stay at a higher/less detailed level of analysis and/or simply cannot account for future precise measurements.  As a group we can account for concerns regarding a higher percentage of large truck volumes when consider pedestrian and bicycle treatments such as buffered bike lanes to separate cyclists from heavy vehicles. Steve Ryan stated he would like the consultant to note that conditions may or will change in the future.


Presentation and Discussion of White Papers in Group #2:


Erin Ferguson noted deadline for WP #2 comments is Feb 15 via email or hard copies.



Ms. Ferguson reviewed this concept and asked for commissioner’s input. 


Michael Dawkins: noted TAC discussion on Oak Knoll was bought into discussion because of queuing conditions and that Sutton Place should also be considered or should replace Oak Knoll on the list for consideration. Also, he noted the discussion on roundabouts being provided at downtown couplet terminuses.


Pam Marsh asked if a roundabout feasible is with truck traffic at the Oak Knoll intersection?   Erin Ferguson noted the intersection skew at that location would likely be more of challenge than truck volumes.  However, at the TAC meeting this morning it was noted by an ODOT representative that the trucking industry is lobbying hard for no roundabouts on state facilities, which could impact that location.

Debbie Miller noted that Sutton place has a lot of tour buses from motels nearby.

Debbie Miller: Could Wimer/Hersey/Main be a roundabout? Erin Ferguson: We learned from the City that intersection has been looked at in the past as a possible location for a roundabout but it can be explored again.


Julia Sommer:  The southern couplet terminus at E Main/Siskiyou Boulevard/Lithia Way area was relatively recently reconstructed; it seems exploring a roundabout at that location may irritate community members given the recent investment there.  Also, would there be an impact on fire station for emergency response if a roundabout was installed at that location? Jim Olson: There was a preliminary review of roundabout constructed in the past as part of a different planning effort and queuing did not allow roundabout to be considered at that time. Conditions are somewhat different there now and signal is working well.  Anything identified for that intersection in this process would be a longer-term project.

John Rinaldi Jr noted that signage is key to success, especially to tourists not familiar with roundabouts. Erin Ferguson noted that single lane roundabouts might be the place to start and then think about multi-lane roundabouts if the single lane roundabouts are successful.  The single-lane roundabouts seem to fit with the interest in road diets.


Pam Marsh noted in Medford it appears that vehicles don’t slow and so are they safer for pedestrians and do they actually slow traffic for crossings? Erin Ferguson explained there are design attributes that can be changed to help slow traffic for example splitter islands can be enlarged to slow traffic with apron for trucks and other treatments to improve pedestrian friendliness.

Larry Blake agreed the roundabout in Medford is “high speed” but those in Bend seem to slow traffic much more.


David Chapman explained an idea about a hybrid circular intersection at Garfield/Siskiyou intersection.  It would be something like an “oval-about” with a plaza treatment to allow crossing into center island. Erin Ferguson noted that there are other variations to explore but we’d want to always consider traffic volume, pedestrian volumes and managing those conflicts to minimize conflicts and crashes.


Bicycle Routes and Bicycle Boulevards:

Mr. Witte reviewed this concept and asked for commissioner’s input.


Michael Dawkins noted N Mountain is a very nice street that has sidewalks, bike lanes, and landscaping.  Hersey, Walker and other similar streets from E Main to Siskiyou Boulevard that could benefit from similar types of treatments as those no N Mountain.  He also noted that he thinks downtown will only be comfortable when the speed is 10 mph and there is two-way traffic rather than a one-way couplet.  He also noted that alleys are too discontinuous and stop and go to be convenient for bicycle travel.  Lithia Way is challenging because of parked cars and no buffer between car doors and travel way for bicycles.


Debbie Miller agreed with the comment regarding Lithia Way; however, there is a bicycle lane, which is nice and she would like something similar for E Main (the southbound part of the couplet) as well.  She expressed concern about the right hook/right-turn conflict with cars.  She once had a close call while she was riding her bicycle.  Adrian Witte noted there are a few options to reduce that conflict.  All options focus on making bicyclists more visible to motorists.  One option is to provide bicycle boxes (painted area for bicycles only) at signalized intersections where bicyclists have space just behind the crosswalk to wait for a green light; this places them where vehicles can see them.  Another option is ending the bicycle lane on approach to intersections to have bicyclists take the lane to be more visible to motorists.


Julia Sommer noted that some streets are too steep to have designations as a type of bikeway.  She doesn’t see the need to spend energy or resources on them.  She noted it seems like the protected bicycle lanes are possible if downtown streets are road dieted.  Erin Ferguson and Adrian Witte agreed that observation is true.


Mike Faught expressed that he would like to at least have some signs for the steep streets to give guidance to bicyclists regarding connections to downtown and other destinations.


Michael Dawkins note he was not clear how the protected bike lanes would fit in downtown given the need for parking remaining along the street.  He suggested considering two-way traffic downtown with bicycles and delivery trucks accommodated by the middle down.


Steve Ryan noted that he would prefer to separate bicycle traffic from vehicle traffic; however, other bicyclists and skateboarders do ride and skate through downtown.  Some behavior is inherently dangerous and would like to see treatments to reduce or mitigate those dangers.


Erin Ferguson encouraged Commissioners to write on the roll maps and will incorporate those comments as well as the scorecards moving forward.


Larry Blake asked where in Ashland would bicycle boulevards make sense.  Adrian Witte responded that B Street given the volume and mix of traffic and a good tool for alerting motorists that it is used by bicyclists.  Michael Dawkins was supportive of B Street as a bicycle boulevard.  Mike Faught noted that it could also be an opportunity to use mini-roundabouts.  Michael Dawkins agreed with idea of mini-roundabouts.


Shared Streets:

Mr. Witte reviewed this concept and asked for commissioner’s input.


Julia Sommer asked have there actually been legal problems in the US related to shared streets.  Adrian Witte responded that legal concerns had caused delay but no one has been sued.  Julia Sommer clarified that it is just a fear that may be unfounded.  Adrian Witte affirmed.


Debbie Miller asked would this be one block or would it be for a whole street of a residential area?  Adrian Witte responded it could be either or some place in between.  The local access residential streets tend to be easier to implement.  In a commercial setting, one potential option in Ashland would be A Street.  Applying the shared street concepts could be the whole street or a few blocks of a Street.


David Chapman noted we have two roads Grandview and Glenn View with 18 foot roadways that function as shared streets and seem to function well, but don’t necessarily have all of the “shared streets” characteristics.  Adrian Witte noted shared streets do come in different forms.


Steve Ryan asked are there property value impacts to shared streets?  Information on whether house values go up or down – be able to respond to potential concerns.


Mike Faught identified the 9th Street Alley as another potential location for a shared street concept.  It is an alley that parallels the railroad tracks.  Implementing this kind of design would be a good application.


Adrian Witte commented that there have been higher volume shared street applications in the UK.  A ring road that blurred the edges between vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists – safety reports and economic reports indicate it has been successful.  He has references and Youtube videos that he will pass along to share with the group.  He encouraged the group to tap into Ben Hamilton-Baillie as a leading expert.


David Chapman noted another street for consideration is Laurel Street.


Pam Marsh identified B Street as a potential street to help make it friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists given it is relatively


Julia Sommer noted that people are sensitive to changes to Winburn Way; however, she would love to see it be a shared street and Granite provides a nice alternative connection/route.


Pam Marsh noted the N Main Street section of the Downtown Plaza area could be another potential shared street and more of a pedestrian shared area to help encourage flow of pedestrians and sense of ownership.


Mike Faught asked about the difference between using sharrows vs. a shared road.  Adrian Witte clarified that sharrows are what you use when you can’t fit in a bicycle lane.  Mike Faught asked they could be used on a shared street that is higher volume?  Adrian Witte responded that could be explored.


Alleyways Sub-Topic

Debbie Miller noted it was unfortunate the City decided to pave all of the alleys a few years ago.


Jim Olson noted some alleys are prohibitive and/or challenging due to the limited right-of-way width.  For example Will Dodge Way is 12 feet in width.


Debbie Miller noted the alley between 1st and 2nd near the Co-Op that already has storefronts and could be a good pilot project.  She also noted that alleys are not good for bicycling do to the stop and go. 


Steve Ryan suggested to also consider 4th Street.


Green Street Standards:

Ms. Ferguson reviewed this concept and asked for commissioner’s input. 


Erin Ferguson noted that the TSP process can only take the Green Street concept to a certain point and then it will be turned over to the storm water management plan.


Julia Sommer expressed concern about the TSP not including guidelines for Green Street standards. Mike Faught clarified that these treatments are related to both the TSP and SWM Plan. Erin Ferguson clarified that the TSP can identify places to apply or integrated the concept but the SWM Plan needs to have those standards in place to implement the treatments. Mike Faught stated that SWM Plan is underway and he will keep TC/PC updated.   Jim Olson noted there is a green street going to bid on March 10th it is for Plaza Avenue and includes bioswales but not permeable pavement (which is ineffective at grades over 5%).


Mike Faught noted that we may be required to move towards Green Streets to keep up with water quality standards including temperature and treatment (naturally) and is expecting these standards to become more rigorous in the future.


Julia Sommer noted that green streets are attractive and useful.

David Chapman asked if there was a category for rain gardens.

Debbie Miller noted Seattle has a lot of deep ditches on their roadways as part of green street treatments.

Pam Marsh noted with regards to increasing quality standards that regulatory considerations may drive the fiscal considerations and priorities coming out of the TSP.


Upcoming Work Activities:

Ms. Ferguson provided an overview of the upcoming key near term dates.








Meeting adjourned at 9:01 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Erin Ferguson, Kittelson & Associates, Inc.

Support from Adrian Witte, Alta Planning and Design

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