[tabi] Franklin Blvd. could be getting sidewalks, bike lanes

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2011 15:44:22 -0400

from today's Democrat:
 
Franklin Blvd. could be getting sidewalks, bike lanes
A good idea never dies. It just takes a while to find funding.
So it is that the city and county commissions today are expected to
approve a proposal
that will add a sidewalk and a wider lane to accommodate bicycles to
Franklin Boulevard.
The sidewalk and
bike
 space will be added as part of Blueprint 2000's current construction of
a box culvert
to reduce the longtime flooding problems along Franklin Boulevard.
The city and county commissions serve as the Intergovernmental Agency
(IA) that oversees
Blueprint 2000, which builds infrastructure projects funded by a
one-cent sales
tax
 approved by voters in 2000.
"If you're not drowned (on Franklin Boulevard), you've had the potential
of being
killed by an automobile," said Kevin McGorty, a member of the Blueprint
2000 citizen
advisory committee. "This is trying to mitigate both problems and make
it better
for people to walk along Franklin Boulevard."
Sidewalks, bike lanes and other amenities were part of Blueprint's
original $22-million
plan for rebuilding Franklin Boulevard, which was scotched when
sales-tax revenues
that fund Blueprint projects tumbled in the economic recession.
Last fall, Blueprint received $4.2 million in federal and city funds to
relieve Franklin
Boulevard flooding problems, by enclosing its open stormwater channel in
a box culvert.
Construction on that project, from Lafayette Street to Tennessee Street,
began in
May and will be completed by July 2012.
But under urging by area residents and the support of several
commissioners, such
as City Commissioner Mark Mustian and County Commissioner Kristin
Dozier, Blueprint
began looking for funding to add sidewalks and bicycle space to the
current project.
Ultimately, the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency (CRTPA),
which coordinates
transportation goals for a four-county area, agreed to provide the
$500,000 necessary
for the additional amenities.
The plan calls for adding a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of
Franklin Boulevard
and convert the two 11-foot-wide northbound traffic lanes into a 10-foot
lane and
a 13-foot lane that will have "sharrow" markings for use by bicyclists.
The two southbound
lanes each will be 11 feet wide.
"I think this is really the skill of our transportation organizations
working together,"
Dozier said. "It always concerned me that we had the funding for part of
the (Franklin
Boulevard) improvements but not all. I'm excited they have been able to
identify
money and move forward."
The project doesn't meet all the hopes of local residents, who have been
distressed
by the difficulty pedestrians have crossing Franklin Boulevard, a
six-block but busy
north-south traffic artery on the east side of downtown. The current
plan includes
no crosswalk lights for pedestrians.
Kelly Layman, who lives a block east of Franklin Boulevard, said the
thoroughfare
provides a barrier to downtown for pedestrians.
"People in my neighborhood walk to (downtown churches) and Leon High
every day and
have horror stories (about trying to cross the street)," Layman said. "I
just think
it's unfortunate that Franklin Boulevard has been and still is acting
like a fence
around downtown."
The project doesn't satisfy all the concerns of officials either.
Blueprint director
Wayne Tedder said more money is needed to fix the flooding from side
streets along
Franklin Boulevard. He said Blueprint needs 10 feet of right of way or
easements
from property owners to add a sidewalk on the west side of Franklin
Boulevard.
So far, no funding for either project has been identified.
"This is all part of a bigger plan," Tedder said. "We want to resolve
more than just
this (current) project."
Dozier agreed further improvements are needed and hopes more funding can
be found.
But she said adding a sidewalk and bike space on one side of Franklin is
a good start.
"I realize we're not really enhancing the crosswalks. But with the
(stormwater) ditch
covered and a sidewalk, crossing will be easier at least at the light at
Park Avenue,"
she said. "I think (the project) improves safety and life in the
neighborhood."
"I think this is really the skill of our transportation organizations
working together,"
Dozier said. "It always concerned me that we had the funding for part of
the (Franklin
Boulevard) improvements but not all. I'm excited they have been able to
identify
money and move forward."
The project doesn't meet all the hopes of local residents, who have been
distressed
by the difficulty pedestrians have crossing Franklin Boulevard, a
six-block but busy
north-south traffic artery on the east side of downtown. The current
plan includes
no crosswalk lights for pedestrians.
Kelly Layman, who lives a block east of Franklin Boulevard, said the
thoroughfare
provides a barrier to downtown for pedestrians.
"People in my neighborhood walk to (downtown churches) and Leon High
every day and
have horror stories (about trying to cross the street)," Layman said. "I
just think
it's unfortunate that Franklin Boulevard has been and still is acting
like a fence
around downtown."
The project doesn't satisfy all the concerns of officials either.
Blueprint director
Wayne Tedder said more money is needed to fix the flooding from side
streets along
Franklin Boulevard. He said Blueprint needs 10 feet of right of way or
easements
from property owners to add a sidewalk on the west side of Franklin
Boulevard.
So far, no funding for either project has been identified.
"This is all part of a bigger plan," Tedder said. "We want to resolve
more than just
this (current) project."
Dozier agreed further improvements are needed and hopes more funding can
be found.
But she said adding a sidewalk and bike space on one side of Franklin is
a good start.
"I realize we're not really enhancing the crosswalks. But with the
(stormwater) ditch
covered and a sidewalk, crossing will be easier at least at the light at
Park Avenue,"
she said. "I think (the project) improves safety and life in the
neighborhood."

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