Roads designed to increase walking/biking opportunities and improve safety
GREENVILLE (SC) The City of Greenville and the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT)recently collaborated on two roadway improvement projects when SCDOT resurfaced and restriped Park Avenue/East North Street from Atwood Street to Pleasantburg Drive (2.5 miles) and Washington Street from the Amtrak station to McBee Avenue (1.5 miles). Both roads are owned by SCDOT, which provided funding for construction. The City provided funding for the restriping plans and bicycle facility markings.
The City has recently received approval from SCDOT for restriping plans for the section of East Washington Street from McBee Avenue to Laurens Road (.66 miles), which is also scheduled to be resurfaced.
The City received funding assistance for engineering plans for the East North Street project from the Greenville Spinners Bicycle Club and is in the process of installing bicycle stencil markings and “Share the Road” signage. The City is also in the process of installing bicycle stencil markings and “Share the Road” signage for the Washington Street project. The two projects have increased the City’s on-street bike network by four miles, bringing the total to 12 miles. The Washington Street project has also provided an additional 50 free on-street parking spaces and allowed for increased landscaping along West Washington Street. Additionally, as part of the projects, SCDOT has installed ADA-compliant curb ramps at every intersection to improve sidewalk access.
The plans for East Washington Street include reducing the roadway from four lanes to three lanes, with a dedicated left-turn lane and on-street bicycle facilities. Preliminary construction has already begun and the resurfacing and striping are scheduled to be completed by September. The project is designed to improve the connectivity of downtown to Cleveland Park, the Greenville Zoo, Laurens Road and the historic Pettigru neighborhood, while also improving the safety of the street by reducing rear-end collisions and left-turn crashes.
These types of projects are referred to as road diets, which typically involve removing one or more vehicular travel lanes and reallocating the extra space for turn lanes, transit, bicyclists, pedestrians and landscaping. The result is that the safety of all street users improves due to wider vehicular travel lanes, dedicated left-turn lanes, on-street bicycle facilities and increased buffers between sidewalks and vehicular travel lanes. The Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study’s Long Range Transportation Plan identifies the proposed section of East Washington Street as a high priority road diet project.
According to Andrew Meeker, the City’s Urban Designer, each of the three projects supports the City’s Complete Streets Resolution, which City Council passed in 2008. “Complete streets increase walking and bicycling opportunities and offer the potential for cleaner air, greater health of the population, reduced traffic congestion, more livable communities, less reliance on fossil fuels and their foreign supply sources and more efficient use of road space and resources,” said Meeker. “These projects also link important destinations like neighborhoods, schools, commercial districts and entertainment and improve community access and connectivity to the City’s trail and greenway network.”
The City’s complete streets policy includes ensuring that all transportation improvement projects provide appropriate accommodation for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and persons of all abilities. The Downtown Master Plan, Comprehensive Plan and Transit Vision & Master Plan all recommended expanding bicycle and pedestrian facilities to increase transportation connectivity and economic development and to provide integrated mobility options for residents and visitors. Additionally, in 2009, the City earned a “Bronze” Bicycle Friendly Community designation for its efforts from the League of American Bicyclists. Bikeville, the City’s Bicycle Friendly Community initiative, is already working on its renewal application in hopes of a “Silver” or “Gold” designation by 2013.