Attack of the Medians, 2009

August 10, 2009

Unhelpful faux medians

In 2004, medians were added to Jefferson Parkway. They looked beautiful, and the claim was that the narrower lanes would calm the traffic. However, as any bicyclist knows, the lanes were made too narrow in some areas of the road (near the Division St intersection), with not enough room for a bicycle and car to ride safely side-by-side.

The other frustrating part of this is that the curb lip is unusually wide -- a bike lane could have been integrated into a curb lip (as on Hwy 3) without increasing street width

How narrow?

Well when I saw the new striping on East Woodley Street (Rice County 28), it felt like Jefferson Parkway all over again. While there’s no physical median, the road now has a faux median painted in the middle. At some points this is helpful, like where it’s used as a suicide lane. In other areas, though, it simply pushes traffic closer to the curb, leaving virtually no space for bicycles. The Nonmotorized Transportation Task Force did request bike lanes (before I was on the TF), but they were rejected by the County. What’s bothersome is that these lanes could have been incorporated without widening the street surface.

Now I’ll say that overall the East Woodley reconstruction is a dramatic improvement for all users of the road. But this is a frustrating and apparently unnecessary impediment to bicycle use. I’ve included a gallery of the good and the bad of the reconstructed East Woodley.

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320th Street to be paved, including shoulders

August 6, 2009

Eveleth Ave and 320th Street

I was excited last week when I saw this sentence on the reconstruction information page for 320th Street (Dakota CR 96): “This project will construct a two-lane highway with paved shoulders.” That 320th Street — the far-north border of the City of Northfield — is being paved is good news for drivers, who will now be able access the Cedar Ave (CSAH 23) route from Highway 3, but paved shoulders are always good news for cyclists.

I was curious about the cost of these shoulders, so I e-mailed Tom Anton, an engineer for Dakota County. He wrote:

The difference between paving 6’ shoulders on both sides versus gravel shoulders is probably $25,000 to $30,000 per mile. A project like County Road 96 could total $1,000,000 per mile, so paving the shoulders doesn’t add much cost. In addition, having paved shoulders decreases our future maintenance costs; less time blading the shoulder, adding material, and maintaining the pavement edge.

$25,000! Two and a half percent! There have been multiple deadly accidents with bicyclists in Rice County because of unpaved shoulders to save, apparently, two and a half percent

In any case, thumbs up to Dakota County. Construction begins on the 320th Street project this fall.

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