The city plans to install more traffic lights at the intersection of Randall Avenue and Racine Street in 2021 in an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians and motorists.
A federal grant received from the Highway Safety Improvement Program this spring will pay for 90% of the improvements to the intersection.
Ahna Bizjak, a senior engineer for the city, led a community engagement forum Wednesday to share plans for the project and gather input from residents.
The city hired a consultant in 2018 to assess local intersections. Randall Avenue and Racine Street ranked fifth highest in economic loss caused by crashes, Bizjak said.
Safety issues at the intersection identified by consulting group RH Batterman included:
- Single overhead traffic lights on Racine Street.
- Sidewalk curb ramps with steep slopes that do not meet Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines.
- A poorly placed fire hydrant at the northwest corner of the intersection.
- A single mounted stoplight at the northeast corner of the quadrant that frequently gets knocked over by large trucks turning onto Randall Avenue.
Proposed safety improvements in the study included:
- Updating the northeast quadrant to remove the single signal and adjust the corner to avoid truck collision.
- Creating signal heads for each lane of traffic with reflective plates to make them more visible in the dark.
- Introducing flashing yellow arrows for left turns.
- Adding audible pedestrian signals to help people who are visually impaired cross the street.
- Creating high-visibility crosswalks.
Plans have not yet been finalized, Todd Needham of RH Batterman said.
The project is estimated to cost about $350,000. Project design and real estate costs associated with the project will be the city’s responsibility, he said.
Bizjak said the city also looked at the area around the intersection, prompting an idea to shrink Racine Street from four lanes to two west of the intersection.
If that happens, the reduction would happen separately from the rest of the intersection project, Bizjak said.
Traffic studies show Racine Street west of the intersection sees just under 10,000 vehicles per day, Bizjak said.
Four-lane roads are meant to accommodate 23,000 to 33,000 vehicles per day, Bizjak said.
Reducing the lanes could improve safety by reducing speeding, improving pedestrian crossing and accommodating bike lanes, she said.
Early plans show two options for Racine Street:
- creating two 12-foot lanes of traffic, center turn lanes and bike lanes on the outside.
- creating two 12-foot lanes of traffic, on-street parking and bike lanes on the outside.
Additional analysis and data collection would need to be done before preliminary designs could be drafted, Bizjak said.
Many of the questions asked at the forum related to the potential lane reduction. People asked about pickup and dropoff at St. John Vianney, pedestrian safety and the necessity of bike lanes.
Bizjak stressed the city needs to gather more information before developing plans and that public feedback would inform future decisions.
This article has been edited from its original version to update the data on how many cars drive on Racine Street every day.