The West Court Street commercial district is dangerous but could be improved if the city gets federal funding for improvements, city officials said in a virtual public forum on Monday night.
A stretch of Court Street from Waveland Road to Pearl Street saw 164 crashes, including two deaths, over five years, according to a 2018 study.
That rate was more than double the statewide average for urban arterial streets, according to the city.
Those crashes caused 20 injuries, one of them incapacitating.
The project still has a long way to go, with work on the 1.3-mile stretch beginning in 2025, if the funding comes through, said Ahna Bizjak, senior engineer for the city.
Improvements would turn the four-lane street between Waveland Road and Pearl Street to two through lanes separated by a center lane for left turns. The street also would have on-street bike lanes on either side.
High-visibility crosswalks would be installed, and the city is considering three mid-block pedestrian crossings, Bizjak said.
Other changes would improve traffic signals at the Court Street intersections with Crosby Avenue, Arch Street and Pearl Street.
The Pearl and Arch street intersections would get countdown timers for pedestrians. All three intersections would get left-turn lanes and high-visibility crosswalks, among other improvements.
John Campbell, a traffic engineer from Traffic Analysis & Design, which conducted the study, said proposed improvements are projected to reduce crashes by 30%, or 100 fewer crashes in the 10 years after the work.
The city proposes improvements expected to reduce crashes, improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, and increase compliance with speed limits.
Campbell said the improvements would mean a reduced average travel time for the 1.3-mile stretch of only 16 seconds, from 211 seconds for the current four-lane setup to 227 seconds with the proposed “safety conversion” by 2043, when traffic volume would be greater.
City officials have applied for federal aid to help pay for the projects. The improved signals are expected to cost about $1.8 million, with the federal grant picking up $1.6 million of that cost.
The reconfiguration of the street would cost $2.2 million, with the federal government picking up $1.87 million.
Few people watched the presentation Wednesday night, and only one had a question, about whether the city would account for traffic changes affecting residents as Court Street traffic continued to the east.
Bizjak replied that the city would have to comply with all safety features outlined in the federal grant application.