Letter to City Council: North Main & Beakes
It seems like I send some version of this message into the City void (SeeClickFix, various transportation community engagement sessions) every 6 months or so. This morning's SeeClickFix report about a truck yet again taking out a utility pole (this time a pedestrian crossing signal) at N Main and Beakes reminded me it is about time to mention this again.
I live on this block and (in non-pandemic times) cross at this intersection on foot or on bike multiple times a day. This intersection is dangerous, especially on the east side of N Main crossing Beakes/Kingsley. The turn radius from Beakes onto northbound N Main is very severe so trucks routinely not just mount the curb but drive over the sidewalk to make this turn. You can usually see tire tracks on the sidewalk here and tire impressions in the extension in front of the museum on this corner. I have more than once had to quickly backpedal while holding my child's hand (or pushing her stroller) away from the corner while waiting to cross to make way for a giant turning truck. Trucks hit the utility poles and pedestrian signals here all the time. I know two neighbors personally who have been hit by cars in this intersection, one who was injured severely.
Due to the lack of any buffer with the right of way on N Main just north of this intersection, trucks (and speeding cars) also routinely take out utility poles and hit trees all along this northern stretch of North Main. Unlike much of the City, we have very stable electricity during storm events, but trucks have knocked our power out on average about once every 2 years since we've lived here.
Despite the reputation of this stretch of N Main as a student neighborhood, at least 4 families with young children (and at least 6 young kids) live between this intersection & Felch.
I don't know the best way to move forward on making changes to make this safer. I know the fact that N Main is an MDOT road makes everything more challenging, but my recommendations/wishlist for what would make this a safer & more pleasant street to live on are:
Take the westbound Beakes travel lane down to one lane and move it further south, away from the corner
Put N Main from Beakes to Depot on a 4->3 road diet (the AADT totals according to SEMCOG are under 20k south of Depot so this should be doable)
Change the speed limit on N Main to 25mph
This would slow cars down (which would also make our street quieter!), make the turn radius on the corner at Beakes less severe without creating an incentive for faster, dangerous turns but narrowing the intersection, and reduce incidences of infrastructure collisions by creating a buffer between trees/poles/humans on the sidewalk and the vehicular right of way. This would also likely also make left turns from N Main onto Kingsley safer, especially if the road diet extended south of Kingsley. I've had a few personal close calls with cars rushing to make that turn and not looking for pedestrians with the signal.
And while I'm here, I did send this in for consideration to the Transportation Plan, but a pedestrian crossing at N Main and Felch would also make a big difference. It is a long way between the crossings at Summit & Beakes so I see people regularly sprinting (or biking) across the 4 lanes of N Main from my home office window and front porch. With the Distillery and Treeline segment down the hill on Felch and the connection through to 4th Ave via N Main Park, I only see this level of demand to cross here increasing.
Thank you all for figuring out how to prioritize any improvements and reduce the risk of injury and death to my neighbors, our street trees, and our infrastructure.