Nick's Council Connection ( 11 March 2013)

CF-Logo.png  Council Meeting Date/Time: March 11, 2013 (Committee of the Whole: 6:10pm, Regular Meeting: 7:00pm)

Council Meeting Location: City Hall (220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613)

Committee of the Whole (11Mar2013, 6:10pm, Mayor’s Chamber)

Council will discuss the widening of West Viking road from two lanes to four lanes between Westminster Drive to Hudson Road. Question: will the expansion improve capacity, traffic flow (i.e. speed), safety, and accommodation?A bigger pipe doesn't necessarily move more water, or make it flow faster. In road design, if conflict and delay chances are minimized, safety and speed will improve. Each lane addition adds many more conflict points (probable accident points). The 2009 counts indicate this Viking road section carries 5500 vehicles per day. The engineered design capacity of the current road (2 lanes) is 12,900 cars/day. A two lane configuration with continuous turn lane has a capacity of 15,000 vehicles/day. The 4 lane road as proposed has a design capacity of 27,000 vehicles/day. Basic math suggests the current proposal would be over-designed by a factor of 5x! Considering capital costs, maintenance expense, traffic patterns, would this road portion be better served by a 3 lane section (2 traffic + one continuous turn lane)? This is my question.

And a couple other thoughts... the new design calls for a trail underpass (it is at grade today) that is out of alignment with current trail forcing the trail user to do a U loop to get back on track while also crossing the Prairie Lake Park entrance road. Can this be avoided? And a final thought, if we want to improve traffic flow on Hudson (reduce delays, improve safety), additional lanes increase intersection complexity which normally requires more signalized intersections (and delay). Added lanes make roundabouts (a known solution to reduce delay and improve safety) unnecessarily complex. If we want to reduce delay and improve safety, sometimes we need to think differently. 

-Regular Council Meeting (11Mar2013, City Council Chamber)-
In Special Order of Business
E.1-3 relates to University Avenue. Our goal for the corridor should be to move accommodate transportation users (motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists) more efficiently (faster) and safely. This will breed neighborhood and commercial renewal into the surrounding properties. We will be voting on the study footprint for the NEMA (federally mandated environmental review process). There will be more debate on the merits of round-abouts, signal synchronization, bike lanes, side trails, and sidewalks, but if we keep the focus on form and function, we should achieve an design that serves us today and well into the future. We'll be watching the purse, but we need to factor total life cycle costs such as maintenance, delay, accidents, injuries, maintenance as well as the tangible and intangible benefits of the alternatives.
In New Business, F-1.h relates to road closures for the NCCC’s road race, team time trial and criterium hosted by UNI Cycling Club. This will be fast and fun to watch.

On the Resolution Calendar...
F.2.k relates to Center Street Bridge repair. $716K will replace the deck and include decorative treatments similar to the new Seerley Bridge design. A timely and necessary improvement in the Center St. corridor.
F.2.p relates to the preliminary plat of 173 residential lots in the new “Prairie Winds” addition west of Hudson Rd. A number of Meadows residents have expressed concerns regarding adverse impacts of the development - thank you for your input. Staff has worked diligently to limit the impacts including a temporary construction road and development phases to more quickly establish secondary access. This is a fine example of developer, residents, and staff working together to expand housing opportunities while minimizing the short-term impacts (and inconveniences) of development.

-Nick Taiber

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