Wednesday, August 8

City to Reconfigure 9th Street at 4th Avenue N

I guess the squeaky wheel does occasionally get some grease. Regular readers of these pages know that I have been harping on about the autobahn, or 9th Street, for some time. The traffic there is too fast for what is really a residential street.

The city did a study, and is going to reconfigure 9th Street at 4th Avenue North before the school year starts this year. As the photo to my left shows, they are going to install concrete pedestrian "islands" at the 4th Avenue North crosswalks. This will allow pedestrians more time to cross the road, as they only have to cross half of it at one time.

This is not without controversy, however. In return for this commonsense measure, the city would like to remove the school crossing at 3rd Avenue North. They say that their studies show more kids crossing at 4th, and they want to encourage the use of the islands.

Well and good, but kids -- especially those that walk to school without parental supervision -- are going to cross 9th at their first opportunity. For many kids, that is 3rd Ave N. As Whittier Principal Mende Kloppel noted at our most recent NC7 meeting, the playground is on 3rd, and that is where they are going to want to go.

The other controversy is parking. Installing these islands means that parking on 9th Street will have to be removed from "4th Alley North" to "5th Alley North". That is regrettable, but I think necessary.

At our meeting on Monday, NC7 voted to endorse the city's plan except for the removal of the 3rd Avenue crosswalk. We voted to retain that school crossing, and hopefully install identical islands on 3rd at some point in the near future.

Expect to see these islands installed this month.


Byrd said...

I went to Whittier School 45 years ago and walked along 4th Ave to get here (I lived near the Russell). I knew kids who lived on 3rd who, of course, crossed 9th St. at 3rd Ave. The Principal is right; no planner saying that the children should just walk up to 4th will change what real kids actually *do*.

Anonymous said...

Why not install a traffic light at the same intersection? The "reconfigure" design looks like an accident waiting to happen.

ZenPanda said...

I don't see people slowing down for these. My Grandmother lives on this corner & no change in the last weeks since they were installed.

Treasure State Jew said...

Panda; Unfortunately, I don't really think that slowing down traffic is the city's intention here.

Rather, it is to create an area in the middle of the street where pedestrians can safely wait for one lane of traffic to allow them to cross. They call these concrete islands 'pedestrian refuges.'

I would rather see a light here. However, the city apparently still views 9th as a major North-South thoroughfare and doesn't want to slow down the flow of traffic.

I am willing to see what happens in September.

ZenPanda said...

From a personal standpoint it would have been just as well to put it on 3rd where there is a more open area for people to see. I grew up on 3rd & walked to Whittier everyday- across 3rd.
The island on 4th succeeded in blocking all parking for my family. We can't visit my grandmother without parking almost on 10th st. (if we can find it there either)

A light would have been welcome!