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 said. 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 Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.