Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is Grandview a neighborhood or a shortcut?

The city of Mound was petitioned recently to consider slowing down traffic on Grandview Boulevard. This is another residential street providing a shortcut through a neighborhood people live on. It gets lots of fast cars going through it, so people don't have to drive through Mound's downtown.

It's good to see residents of Grandview Boulevard asking about ways to improve their street, though I believe it's going to take a lot more than a petition to get the city to take these concerns seriously. Their prevailing (and incorrect) belief is that if we have cars drive slower, then we are creating congestion. As we have discussed before, driving 5 MPH slower adds only seconds when one is driving through someone else's neighborhood.

Unfortunately, Grandview is a MSA street, which means that Mound get's state highway money to pay for the street, but there are strings attached to those funds. The state has guidelines about how MSA streets are to be built, including how wide it has to be, and what the minimum speed limit is (which is 30). There is highway money behind these streets, and so they are meant to have cars drive fast on them.

There is work being done at the state level to incorporate more pedestrian and bike features on these streets, but frankly, the process is slow, and several people that I have spoken with on these matters feel it's little more than lip service. The MSA system that is deeply ingrained in the way we build and manage cities. It's only value is that it cuts seconds off a commute for people driving in cars. The MSA system adds little value to the people who live on Grandview Boulevard.

5 comments:

  1. George, I'm curious what specific changes you would recommend to improve conditions on Grandview (pretend you are not constrained by MSA rules)? Do you think the residents along Grandview would agree with your recommendations?

    Also, I'm curious about your last paragraph, which seems to imply that MSA rules somehow preclude bike or ped features on streets, which is not the case. To the best of my knowledge, sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, etc, are all eligible uses for state-aid funding within a state-aid designated ROW.

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  2. I'm working on some suggestions... I would argue that the street needs to be engineered to reduce the speed limit. I have other thoughts that will be shared eventually.

    I apologize for glossing over the ped/bike lane options in the last paragraph. You are correct. I am referring specifically to the "Complete Street" rules they are working toward implementing in the MSA manual... and that seems mostly just about bike lanes.

    Mound can (and does on some MSA streets) include a sidewalk, but mention of any new sidewalks on these MSA streets will be quickly dismissed as too expensive at city hall.

    In my research, I haven't seen state aid funding possibilities for sidewalks and such. Can you share a link about that?

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  3. I live on Grandview - and have for the past 30 years. The speeding cars going by our house (across from the middle school) are dangerous to say the least. I would think the city could post "Slow Children" signs as a start. And I agree that a reduced speed of 20 mph is order due to all the children walking to and fro from school.

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  4. Hi ME, glad you saw this and chimed in.

    The Safe Routes to School policy the city and schools implemented in Mound a few years ago (2004 I believe) is a mystery as far as I'm concerned. My kids walk to Shirley Hills, and have much more to say about it. Why do they have signs ONLY next to the school grounds... what about the block before the child gets to the school?

    I noticed, when I drove down Grandview earlier in the week, that there were no signs indicating to cars that there was a school there, or that they should drive slower. It seems like they give themselves permission to not put signs there, since there's a huge field there I guess. What I believe is really happening, is that traffic engineers have all these rules, numbers, and templates how these signs fit in on the streets around our schools. Since the school building sits so far away from Grandview Blvd, it must miss on those numbers, and thus, the engineers don't need to put signs there.

    This is a topic that's been burning in me that I will address futher.

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  5. While visiting in Cedar Rapids IA, I had the experience of a wide speed deterrent. It was 4-5' wide and raised equal to the sidewalk and rain gutter, with a slanted approach on either side. It didn't cause me to scatter all my belongings in my Jeep or bump my head on the ceiling. It was just a gentle reminder that hey could you please slow down a bit. I've been tempted to contact their city planner and get the plans and pass them on to Sarah.

    More than Grandview Blvd, could use speed deterrents.

    I sometimes compare Wayzata with Mound... I know, anyway the speed on their downtown roadway is considerably slower than Mound's.

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