[tabi] "Crossing Monroe at Lake Ella a white- knuckle experience"

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2012 12:17:55 -0500

From today's Democrat:

Crossing Monroe at  Lake Ella a white- knuckle experience
By TaMaryn Waters
Democrat staff writer
Standing behind a display case lined with 
antique pieces, Karen Loewen peers 
through her shop's large window and sees 
people trying to cross North Monroe Street 
at Lake Ella.

It often takes a while. Some people, 
including children, dash across before cars 
speed by. Others make it to the multi-turn 
lane and get stuck waiting for a clear path. 
Loewen, owner of Remember When, said 
"it's a white-knuckle experience" watching 
walkers cross one of the busiest streets in 
the city.

"Cars go way too fast, especially in front of 
our shops right here," she said. "All you 
have to do is try to walk it once or twice, 
especially at 5 o'clock."

Planners and officials say Monroe Street 
needs to be safer for pedestrians, 
especially near Lake Ella. A two-part 
project is in the works for Monroe Street 
that includes studying the placement of 
medians in front of Lake Ella between 
Tharpe Street and Seventh Avenue to 
improve pedestrian and vehicular safety.

From 2007 to 2011, 547 crashes related 
to pedestrians and vehicles occurred in the 
half-mile stretch from Tharpe to Seventh 
Avenue, a report from the Tallahassee 
Police Department says.

For years, the Lake Ella area on Monroe 
Street has been identified as a prime place 
for improvements. In 2004, the Capital 
Region Transportation Planning Agency 
called North Monroe Street at Lake Ella a 
"pedestrian emphasis intersection" in the 
Tallahassee-Leon Bicycle and Pedestrian 
Master Plan. In 2009 and 2010, the 
agency rated the location the highest on 
one of its priority project lists for 
pedestrian safety improvements.

Loewen, vice chairwoman for the 
Committee for a Bikeable Community 
through Capital City Cyclists, said she 
supports the idea of medians in the area.

"Medians would provide a place for people 
to go halfway and then go the other half."

Some drivers say they will support medians 
in the area as long as it doesn't lead to traffic congestion.

Bill Chandler, who drives along the area 
often, said he doesn't want to see reduced 
lanes on Monroe Street, such as has 
occurred on Gaines Street.

"You can't restrict the traffic flow," he said. 
"We should not be restricting traffic flow on 
main arteries."

Before medians are a reality on Monroe 
Street, a study will be done to determine what exactly is needed, said
Greg Burke, a 
transportation planner for the Capital 
Regional Transportation Planning Agency.

The agency, made up of commissioners 
throughout the Big Bend area, will begin 
today to move forward with a Monroe 
Street Access Management and Lake Ella 
Implementation Study. The two-in-one 
study will first take a closer look at the 
entire Monroe Street corridor from John 
Knox Road to south of Magnolia Drive, 
which includes a strategy for the ultimate 
installation of medians.

The second part hones in on the Lake Ella 
area of Monroe Street, and this portion of 
the study will focus on where medians 
should be placed, enhanced landscaping 
and overall appearance of the medians. 
Burke said the agency has received $1.2 
million in federal funding for the Lake Ella 
portion of the project.

Once the Lake Ella segment of the study is 
completed, Burke said the next step will be 
to design the medians by 2013 and 
construction will begin in 2015.

Three public meetings for the project are 
being planned, with the first taking place 
sometime in April. Burke said affected  
business owners and residents can add 
their thoughts on whether medians should 
or shouldn't be installed.

Also, a project team of representatives 
from businesses, governmental agencies 
and neighborhood associations has been 
set up to provide input and guide the 
project's development. The team is slated 
to meet monthly until the study is 
completed in November.

Nancy Morgan, owner of Nancy's 
Alterations that has been in the area for 
more than 20 years, said the five-lane 
road needs medians.

She often sees StarMetro riders, including 
mothers and their children, get off the bus 
and attempt to cross Monroe Street. She, 
like other business owners in the area, say 
numerous people are getting on and off at 
 the nearby stop.

"Sometimes, I hold my breath," Morgan 
The Monroe Street Access Management and Lake Ella 
Implementation Study will consider the entire 
Monroe Street corridor from John Knox Road to 
south of Magnolia Drive and will include a strategy 
for the ultimate installation of medians.

 / Special to 
the Democrat

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