Monday, November 9, 2009

Traffic Calming for Altura

At a recent meeting at Austin High School, City traffic engineer, Kimberly Forsyth, presented a plan to neighbors for calming traffic on Altura through the City's Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP).

The NTMP has several objectives: improve unsafe conditions; provide protection and relief from disproportionate increases in traffic; provide a program format that is responsive to all neighborhoods; incorporate community preferences into design and operation of neighborhood streets.

To be eligible for a NTMP grant, a street must have an 85th percentile speed of 35 mph or higher and have high traffic volumes in a low density (residential) area. Being a bus or emergency vehicle route or having pedestrian facilities (schools, parks) nearby are also considered.

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Altura ranked number one out of 40 citywide applications eligible for physical traffic calming. It has high daily volumes of traffic, has had 3 reported collisions in the past 4 years, and typically sees speeds above 35 mph.

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Traffic engineers propose several traffic calming solutions for Altura: traffic circles at Raynor and Altura and Myles and Altura as well as curb extensions at Byron and Russell.

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Ms. Forsyth called traffic circles the "Cadillacs of traffic calming measures". They slow speeding, reduce the chance of collisions and are attractive. Curb extensions reduce roadway width curb to curb and benefit pedestrian activity at midblock and intersection crossings.

The proposal will now go to engineering for drawing. It will still take months before the entire project is completed.

Not all neighbors have been happy with recent traffic calming measures in the area. A curb extension at Scenic Drive and Wheeling does slow down vehicles turning downhill off Scenic Drive onto Wheeling. However, according to one neighbor, motorists now increase their speed even more after making the turn. What is needed in his opinion are additional stop signs at the corner of Dakota and Wheeling. "The curbs that the City installed have led to neighbors (including me) narrowly avoiding having head-on collisions." Neighbors worry that the City won't act until there is a serious accident.

(All images above were part of the slide show presented by Kimberly Forsyth at Austin High School 10/27/09.)

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