Tuesday, April 10

Do you like the Lower-Side One Way Streets?

Three posts in two days may spell the end of my hiatus, but only time will really tell.

Another lower North and South side issue has arisen about which I need input. A group of downtown business owners are advocating for Fifth and Sixth Streets (North of Tenth Avenue South) be reset as two-way, instead of one-way throughfares.

They say that their current configuration makes visiting downtown businesses more difficult. In addition, the existence of these one-way streets increases the speed of traffic through residential neighborhoods. I suspect that this is all true.

In addition, conversations with city staff confirm that these Streets just do not see the traffic that might justify their existence as one-way. They were reset as one way streets many years ago with the idea of relieving traffic off Ninth Street. That idea has not worked.

HOWEVER, resetting these streets as two-way would certainly increase traffic on Ninth. I remain very concerned about all the traffic on Ninth -- it remains a dangerous and poorly planned North-South throughfare. This idea might make the problem all the worse.

So, what do you think? Is it a good idea to reset 5th and 6th? Or is the idea all wet?


ajtooley said...

If they existed in a vacuum, I would see no benefit in those streets remaining one-ways, but if it's true that resetting them would increase traffic on Ninth, then it would be foolish to do so.

peggy Beltrone said...

Traffic patterns change over time and it is good to be willing to examine needed adjustments. In this instance however, I believe we will need to keep the one ways on 5th and 6th in anticipation of increased traffic during the major overhaul of 2nd Avenue North from River Drive to 15th streets. The last time I checked the project included considerable construction on 9th Street. It will be similar to the update of 1st Avenue North. Highway costs have increased and thrown schedules off so I can't say with confidence when the project is slated to begin. But I believe it is just over the horizon. We will need to have alternative through streets to move traffic diverted off of 9th Street during this construction.

Treasure State Jew said...


Thank you. Does "considerable construction on 9th Street" include any widening or other action that would increase traffic speed on this already too-fast street?

Treasure State Jew said...

I would also hope that as traffic is diverted through the very residential lower North and South sides, we can do all we can to ensure that average traffic speed is kept low. From 10th Avenue South all the way to 8th Avenue North, kids live and play right off those Streets.

Dona Stebbins said...

9th Street was a topic of conversation at the City Commission Agenda meeting today. We are going to do a traffic study and see what's what -although I know that the main problem is too much traffic, too fast on a street that really wasn't designed for it.

The consensus (although no "vote" was taken) was that 5th and 6th need to remain as one ways. I will update you on this as things proceed.

peggy beltrone said...

My recollection on the work was the utility replacement was going to be done at the same time and it involved a larger disturbance at 9th than any of the other intersections.

In our community the Policy Coordinating Committee for urban state highway projects is typically made up of the Chair of the County Commission, Mayor of Great Falls, Regional Administrator of the MDT, a Federal Highway administrator, the Chair of the Transit District and the Chair of the City Planning Board. This committee meets twice a year to prioritize projects based on recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee. The last meeting I attended was last Fall and now Lance is on the committee so I don't have the latest information. I will try to see if we can get a pdf of the schematic that has been prepared for the 2nd Avenue North project and a better estimate of the start time.

It was several years ago that the state made recommendations to reduce the number of traffic lights on 2nd as part of the construction upgrade. We (the County Attorney in particular) had to advocate for signals to remain on 4th and 3rd at that time. I know we saved the 4th street one and I can't remember how the library signal faired.

As to your question on 9th street widening I will defer to Dona as 9th is a city street, not a state highway like 14th and 15th streets and 1st and 2nd Avenues North and thus not the focus of our PCC meetings. I recall that physical barriers, like the substation on the south side have been sited as problematic for widening 9th Street.

peggy beltrone said...

I received information today from Steve Prinzing, professional engineer with Montana Department of Transportation about the 2nd Avenue North reconstruction. Steve gave me the following report:

The project is currently scheduled for a September 27th, 2007 bid letting. Depending on weather, some work may be started in late fall of 2007. At this point it is assumed that the project(s) would be completed by late fall of 2008.

The project is a complete reconstruction of 2nd Avenue North from Park Drive to 15th Street. It also includes the reconstruction of 9th Street from the alley south of 2nd Avenue South to the alley north of 2nd Avenue North.

The project will include new curb and gutter, handicap ramps, concrete driveway approaches, asphalt surfacing, water main replacement, storm drain and signing and striping. Signals along 2nd Avenue North including the intersection with 9th Street will not be replaced since the signals were updated in 2000.

The segment along 2nd Avenue North will include parking along the north side of the street only from Park Drive to 9th Street North. Current parking and widened areas at the Library and the Community Recreation Center will be perpetuated. The segment on 2nd Avenue North from 9th Street to 15th Street will be widened to the south and will provide additional lane and parking width and includes parking on both sides of the street.

The section of 9th Street to be reconstructed includes widening, a center left turn lane and right turn lanes at 1st Avenue South, Central Ave, and 1st Avenue North. Signals will be replaced along 9th Street with the exception of the signal at 2nd Avenue North.


The reconstruction on 9th Street is more extensive than I remembered. It apparently makes sense to do this all at once.

Given the impact of this construction, your Neighborhood Council may want to be involved in the communication links going forward. I'm sure MDOT would welcome this coordination.