Plans for a key crossing for the Wallingford neighborhood greenway has been scaled back in response to concerns from residents. The crossing at N 43rd St and Stone Way is the biggest component of the project, giving people on foot or bike a safe and more comfortable way to cross the busy street.
Originally, plans called for a median island that would have prevented people driving from turning left both from 43rd onto Stone Way and from Stone to 43rd. New plans would remove the center sections of the median to allow left-turning movements (see above). Here’s how plans looked at a December open house:
SDOT says the change came after some community members expressed concerns about the diverting traffic when a 90-unit building opens with driveway access only on 43rd. They say traffic volumes are already low enough that the median was not seen as a key to the greenway’s success.
From Sam Woods at SDOT:
The current design provides pedestrians and bicyclists with a significant safety improvement. Left turn movements will be taken more slowly and with more awareness of crossing pedestrians and bicyclists. The islands on the approaches to the crosswalks allow pedestrians and bicyclists the opportunity to cross half the roadway, with a stopping area. This generally results in very good compliance with motorists stopping from the other direction because the pedestrians and bicyclists are very visible.
We did hear pushback with the original design (with some people suggesting a traffic signal – which would have drawn more traffic to the greenway route) with the new development of 90 units on the corner with driveway access only on N 43rd St and residents having to reroute to other residential streets. The alternate routes were on narrow streets that we would have had to improve for the diverted traffic with parking restrictions at the intersections.
Consistent with many of the streets in this neighborhood, the traffic speeds and volumes on N 43rd ST, are below the thresholds for neighborhood greenways, so diversion of the left turning traffic is not critical to the success of the greenway. Finally, we also heard some questioning of the N 43rd Street route for bicyclists due to the grade. In the end, the improvement of the full median did not outweigh the impacts to the surrounding neighborhood due to the diversion.
The cost of the full median versus the partial median was not a consideration in the decision process.