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Downtown Bike & Ped Projects

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There is some exiting news about some bike and ped improvement projects that might actually get built! Council decided to fund $2.3 million worth of projects around downtown that are detailed in the HJ article here. These projects are funded in part by the Broad Street TIF District and will will likely be implemented over the next 2-3 years. A pattern I've noticed is that they are partnering up with a lot of stormwater/drainage repairs as part of many of these projects. Kudos to the City for finding creative ways to combine standard repairs to make them better projects for everyone.

 

The summary is as follows:

 

North Church Street Streescape: This project will make the walk from the Marriott to Morgan Square much better. I'm not sure where they will find the room for these improvements without moving the curb into the street.

  • -Cost: $546,654
  • -Add pedestrian-scale lighting (like you see on main street)
  • -Add street trees
  • -Add street furniture (benches, trashcans, planters)

 

Mary Black Rail Trail Extension: Connects the Rail Trail to the heart of downtown and to the Palmetto Trail to the north.

  • -Cost $582,460
  • -Add pedestrian refuge island and crosswalks to Henry St

Converse Street Cycle Track: Creates physically separated bike lanes behind on-street parking along the entire length of Converse Street. This might be the first cycle track in South Carolina, and among the first in the South

  • Cost: $147,033

Main Street Improvements: Remove the curves on Main Street

  • -Cost: $391,786
  • -Remove chicanes
  • -Replace street trees
  • -Install new lighting

Wall Street "Festival Street" : The concept of a 'festival street' is used in many other places, notably another Wall Street in nearby Asheville. Here's a streetview so you can get a sense of the concept... just on a larger scale.

  1. -Cost $210,375
  2. -add pavers the full length of Wall Street

 

Magnolia Street Sidewalk Improvements: Install new trees in tree wells by removing a few parking spaces

  • Cost $158,929

 

Daniel Morgan Ave Road Diet: We've known this one has been in the works for a while. I'm glad it's finally being funded.

 

  • -Cost: $190,417
  • -remove 2 travel lanes
  • -Add Parking
  • -Add bike lanes

 

St John Street Pedestrian Signal: This one would install a pedestrian-activated (HAWK) signal on St John St at Liberty Street. I'm not sure how this one will work, because the HAWK signal concept is intended for mid-block locations usully several hundred feet away from any intersection. But if they can figure out how to do it then it will be a great asset for that area.

  • Cost: $75,000

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There is some exiting news about some bike and ped improvement projects that might actually get built! Council decided to fund $2.3 million worth of projects around downtown that are detailed in the HJ article here. These projects are funded in part by the Broad Street TIF District and will will likely be implemented over the next 2-3 years. A pattern I've noticed is that they are partnering up with a lot of stormwater/drainage repairs as part of many of these projects. Kudos to the City for finding creative ways to combine standard repairs to make them better projects for everyone.

 

The summary is as follows:

 

North Church Street Streescape: This project will make the walk from the Marriott to Morgan Square much better. I'm not sure where they will find the room for these improvements without moving the curb into the street.

  • -Cost: $546,654
  • -Add pedestrian-scale lighting (like you see on main street)
  • -Add street trees
  • -Add street furniture (benches, trashcans, planters)

 

Mary Black Rail Trail Extension: Connects the Rail Trail to the heart of downtown and to the Palmetto Trail to the north.

  • -Cost $582,460
  • -Add pedestrian refuge island and crosswalks to Henry St

Converse Street Cycle Track: Creates physically separated bike lanes behind on-street parking along the entire length of Converse Street. This might be the first cycle track in South Carolina, and among the first in the South

  • Cost: $147,033

Main Street Improvements: Remove the curves on Main Street

  • -Cost: $391,786
  • -Remove chicanes
  • -Replace street trees
  • -Install new lighting

Wall Street "Festival Street" : The concept of a 'festival street' is used in many other places, notably another Wall Street in nearby Asheville. Here's a streetview so you can get a sense of the concept... just on a larger scale.

  1. -Cost $210,375
  2. -add pavers the full length of Wall Street

 

Magnolia Street Sidewalk Improvements: Install new trees in tree wells by removing a few parking spaces

  • Cost $158,929

 

Daniel Morgan Ave Road Diet: We've known this one has been in the works for a while. I'm glad it's finally being funded.

 

  • -Cost: $190,417
  • -remove 2 travel lanes
  • -Add Parking
  • -Add bike lanes

 

St John Street Pedestrian Signal: This one would install a pedestrian-activated (HAWK) signal on St John St at Liberty Street. I'm not sure how this one will work, because the HAWK signal concept is intended for mid-block locations usully several hundred feet away from any intersection. But if they can figure out how to do it then it will be a great asset for that area.

  • Cost: $75,000

 

I really like what I see!  Each of these projects will improve the pedestrianability of downtown.  I'm especially glad to see monies for the Daniel Morgan Avenue road diet!

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A few additional details, as I attended the Council meeting.  For the St. John and Liberty intersection, I believe the City said they couldn't do a full traffic signal because it's too close to the Converse St signal.  I find that hard to believe, since signals on Church at Dunbar, Main, and Broad are closer together (maybe they're grandfathered?), but I won't pretend to understand the reasoning of SCDOT.  I'm also interested to see how the signal will work. For instance, what will stop cars on Liberty from turning onto St. John while that traffic is stopped (which would be dangerous for the pedestrians crossing)?

 

Also, Daniel Morgan improvements (other than drainage work) will essentially just be re-striping.  They decided to only do that because future development on the west side of the street is uncertain.  So this is basically an "interim" alignment, with a more significant change possible in the future depending on surrounding development.  But it will certainly be an improvement over current conditions and added parking in the Grain District is good (that area is often packed, particularly on Thursday nights w/RJ Rockers Tour & Taste).

 

The North Church improvements are only on the east side of the street (again, that side being more developed).  There's a possibility the improvements could extend slightly beyond the Marriott to the Auditorium.  The sidewalk is actually pretty wide there (especially if they use tree grates).

 

Also, the Rail Trail extension will be 9 feet wide with a landscaped buffer (using excess Union St. roadbed).  Still not quite sure how the connection to Main up Dean will work.

 

Finally, all the new streetlights will be LED, which is nice (both from a brightness and efficiency standpoint).

 

I'm really excited at all the improvements the City was able to squeeze in.  I'm especially excited about them pursuing some creative/innovative infrastructure, particularly the separated cycle tracks and the Wall St "festival" concept.  It's great to see Spartanburg finally leading the way in SC with some of the cycling facilities proposed!

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In general, state DOT's are more focused on capacity/vehicular throughput of signals. So, more signals = more delay = bad traffic. Generally, they don't want signals closer than 1/2 mile. The problem with this logic is that it completely ignores how real cities work, ie: walking, biking, and transit are more prevalent, and it creates mismatches in terms of how the built environment can function for people actually using it as opposed to looking at some data model. Moreover, Spartanburg does not have a traffic problem. An additional signal on St John St would only improve the area.

 

Further, the HAWK signal would create a "half-signal" if installed at an intersection, creating the confusion you describe above. This situation is clearly described in the MUTCD (the traffic engineering Bible), so my guess is that it will not be installed for that reason.

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