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A road diet for Iron Mountain?

January 14, 2014
The Daily News

The Iron Mountain Design Committee and Iron Mountain Plan Commission are seeking public input on the idea of a road diet for the Carpenter Avenue corridor in Iron Mountain, Iron Mountain Main Street officials announced.

The affected area would run from Ludington Street to Woodward Avenue.

This classic roadway reconfiguration, commonly referred to as a "road diet," involves converting an undivided four lane roadway into three lanes made up of two through lanes and a center two-way left turn lane.

The reduction of lanes allows the roadway to be reallocated for other uses, such as bike lanes.

Proponents claim road diets have multiple safety and operational benefits for vehicles as well as pedestrians, such as:

- Decreasing vehicle travel lanes for pedestrians to cross, therefore reducing the multiple-threat crash (when one vehicle stops for a pedestrian in a travel lane on a multi-lane road, but the motorist in the next lane does not, resulting in a crash) for pedestrians.

- Improving safety for bicyclists when bike lanes are added (such lanes also create a buffer space between pedestrians and vehicles).

- Reducing rear-end and side-swipe crashes.

- Improving speed limit compliance and decreasing crash severity when crashes do occur.

"A road diet involves a reduction in the number of lanes on a roadway," said Jonathan Ringel, part-time Iron Mountain Main Street manager. "One of the most common applications of a road diet is to improve safety or provide space for other users in the context of two-way streets with two lanes in each direction. The road diet reduces this to one travel lane in each direction with a middle reversible turn lane to allow for safer left turns."

From experience in other cities, experts say the change to a three-lane road can reduce the speed limit on the road, which in turn may reduce the number and severity of vehicle-to-vehicle crashes.

Pedestrians benefit because they have fewer traffic lanes to cross and because vehicle speeds are lower, they say.

Ringel said some of the benefits of road diets include:

- Isolating left-turns into center lane reduces rear-end accidents.

- Reducing traffic lanes decreases the number of lane-change accidents.

- On multi-lane roads, faster drivers dictate speed.

- On narrower single-lane roads, more cautious drivers dictate speed.

- While speed is reduced, actual increase in travel time will be negligible.

- The Carpenter stretch from Ludington Street to Woodward Avenue is .85 miles.

- Traveling at 25 mph without stopping takes approximately two minutes.

- Traveling at 32 mph without stopping takes approximately one minutes, 37 seconds.

- Road diets simplify traffic patterns, requiring less signalized intersections.

- Providing for alternative transportation, whether walking or biking, could reduce vehicle traffic.

- Including bike lanes increases visibility and separation of bicycle traffic, making it safer to ride.

- Safe, dedicated bicycle pathways encourage more bicycle traffic, especially near schools.

- Slower vehicle traffic has proven to increase exposure to business along dieted streets.

- Dedicated bike lanes reduce/eliminate pedestrian-bicycle accidents on the sidewalk.

- Pedestrian traffic and street vibrancy create pleasant social environments along the corridor.

- Safety along the pedestrian way promotes recreational walking and jogging, improving public health.

- Walkable and bicycle friendly communities are thought of as providing a higher quality of life, making its residents want to stay.

- Demographic data reveal that younger generation of urban inhabitants (the ones that will sustain cities into the future) are choosing more walkable places to live in order to generate considerable household savings by not owning or driving a car. The majority of these savings are then spent locally.

- Walkable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods often fetch a 40 percent premium over real estate in suburban, car-dependent areas.

"Successful road diets have already been implemented along U.S. 2 in Powers and Iron River, and along U.S. 41 in Marquette," Ringel said.

"A road diet is currently planned for U.S. 2 in Bessemer. The U.P. is leading the way in roadway safety," he said.

What do you think?

To offer your input, e-mail the Iron Mountain Main Street office at mainstreet@cityofironmountain.com, or write Iron Mountain Main Street, 501 South Stephenson Ave., Iron Mountain MI 49801.

You may also comment on the Iron Mountain Facebook page.

Let your voices be heard on this new proposal.

 
 

 

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