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Another Broadway option on council’s table

May 23, 2018 GMT

Another proposal for redesigning nine blocks of North Broadway Avenue is expected in two weeks.

The Rochester City Council reviewed updated safety and access issues Monday for the corridor that runs from Civic Center Drive north to just beyond 13th Street.

“We’ve gone through and evaluated it a little more,” City Engineer Dillon Dombrovski told council members.

Consultants from Bolton & Menk identified three problem intersections — crossings at Fifth, 10th and 12th streets — with crashes that included pedestrians, bikes and vehicles.

“These are the three we showed closed with a median,” Dombrovski said. “The reason we showed those closed is because of the crash rates.”

Earlier studies cited 32 crashes at 12th Street and 18 at Fifth Street during a 10-year period. Angie Bersaw of Bolton & Menk said injury crashes at 10th Street put the number at the intersection above a number deemed statistically significant for fatal or serious crashes during the same period.

Some council members questioned whether the numbers warranted reducing access to businesses, noting the crash count appears low when compared to how many vehicles travel the corridor.

“I can’t help but wonder: We’re going to put all this into the design and construction and so forth on a roadway that exceeds 20,000 trips per day and at (12th Street) we’re going to reduce crashes by 1 (per year),” said Council President Randy Staver, who also questioned whether the addition of a protected bike track will add to potential conflicts, rather than reduce them.

As a result, a third option is being prepared to keep all the existing intersections.

Council Member Michael Wojcik questioned whether city staff could back the plan, since crashes are above state averages for similar roadways.

“We can sign off on it,” Public Works Director Richard Freese said. “Our job is to bring these issues to light.”

In addition to informing the council of the concerns, he said staff will also report them to the federal and state transportation departments, along with a plan to address problems, if needed. The plan would call for installing medians at some intersections if crash numbers are too high, if intersection delays occur or if land-use changes warrant them.

Several council members gave a tentative nod to the potential compromise with plans to add medians as needed.

“I think this is a compromise with the neighbors, the businesses, to make sure customers have access to businesses,” Council Member Mark Bilderback said.

Council Member Nick Campion, however, raised concerns about waiting for the number of crashes to call for a change, noting it could put children who cross Broadway at risk.

“When you sign to go with the metrics, one of those (crashes) could be a fatal accident,” he said.

The council is scheduled to review the next preliminary plan for the reconstruction of Broadway on June 4. Once the preliminary street layout is prepared, work on a final design will start with construction to begin in 2019.

In addition to discussing street design options, the council also discussed potential tools to help offset the economic burden of street redesign projects.

Council members cited a desire to explore options, and City Administrator Steve Rymer said he plans to work with community partners to discuss available programs and assistance.