Voices

City seeks traffic calming projects

The office of Neighborhood Services and Code Enforcement hosted a workshop and training session at City Hall on Monday evening to explain how neighborhoods may apply for the next round of funding for traffic calming measures.

The evening’s presenter was Jackie Caro of the Office of Neighborhood Services and Code Enforcement. Caro has compiled a Traffic Calming Toolbox, a guideline which shows examples of the different traffic calming and speed control measures, as well as a detailed description of the application process and how competing projects are scored against each other.

“Not every measure works for everybody,” Caro said at the beginning of her presentation. “Keep that in mind when you file your applications.”

About 25 neighborhood council representatives were there, half of whom indicated they went through the application process seeking funding for crosswalks, sidewalks and other traffic calming measures in 2012.

The money comes from the city’s red-light enforcement program, and $140,000 has been made available for each City Council district in 2013.

Each neighborhood council may submit an application for one arterial and one residential street traffic calming project. A project’s estimated cost cannot be more than $40,000.

“And you have to rate your projects,” said Heather Trautman, director Office of Neighborhood Services and Code Enforcement. “If we only have money to fund one project, we need to know which one has the highest priority.”

Last year, neighborhoods submitted 74 traffic calming projects for consideration and 21 were approved.

The 53 projects that were not funded are rolled into 2013’s application pool for reconsideration.

Some neighborhood council representatives wanted to know why they couldn’t submit two projects in the residential category if their neighborhood is predominantly residential.

Trautman explained that some of last year’s applications were very elaborate and expensive, that’s why tighter guidelines were adopted this year.

Senior Traffic Engineer Bob Turner encouraged the neighborhoods to work together when choosing projects.

“If you coordinate what you apply for you may get more done,” said Turner.

A traffic calming project will need a traffic study or a warrant analysis. A major rerouting of traffic – such as an arterial roundabout – requires an in-depth traffic study, but installation of colored pavement may be approved based on a warrant analysis.

“It all depends on how complicated the project is,” Turner said.

Neighborhoods have been frustrated in the past because they’ve gotten traffic calming projects approved, only to find that the required traffic study would take a year to complete.

Turner said they always look at four things: traffic volume, travel speed, pedestrian activity and number of collisions.

“Collisions must be reported to the police to count,” Turner said.

This year, neighborhoods will be encouraged to participate in simple traffic data gathering such as counting the number of pedestrians at a certain intersection.

“You may think there are 600 pedestrians crossing a street at a certain intersection, but when we count them it turns out to be 6,” Turner said. “I need as much information as I can get to find out which project is the biggest problem.”

Applications will be available online at www.spokane neighborhoods.com by Jan. 2. The application deadline is March 1.



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