PBOT Floats Idea of Rapid Flash Beacons on Foster; Money Still an Issue

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Foster Streetscape Plan update met last night to adopt project goals and review an existing conditions report.  And while the adoption of project goals was more of a formality than anything, it did mark another step forward in the process of refreshing the original streetscape plan.

The real meat of the discussion, though, was PBOT Project manager, Mauricio Leclerc’s, suggestion that rapid flash beacons be considered for a near-term fix of safety concerns on Foster, as well as the SAC’s questioning of how more money could be raised to fund the streetscape plan in its entirety — something that Leclerc did not seem all too eager to pursue.

In regards to the rapid flash beacons, Leclerc posed the idea as a short-term and possible low-cost safety solution.  However, he did go on to say that money was not currently available for such improvements, and that they’d ultimately cost between $50,000 and $70,000 each.  The other condition, if money could be identified, would be that the beacons would have to be installed at already existing traffic islands.  To the best of my calculations, there are five islands between SE 50th and 80th, and a beacon already exists at the latter.  So the four potential sites would be at SE 58th, SE Cora (between 60th and 61st), SE 65th, and SE 69th.  Again, money is not available, and if there was it wouldn’t necessarily be enough to fund improvements at all of those crossings.  So the question to the SAC, then, was would you consider the rapid flash beacons a worthwhile investment?  And if so, which locations would you prioritize?  We’ll pose the same question to you:  would rapid flash beacons be a good investment at said locations?

And finally, the other meaty issue was funding.  There’s already $3.25 million designated for the streetscape plan ($2 mil from PDC, and $1.25 from Metro’s Regional Flexible Funds), but that will only cover a small portion of the plan’s total cost.  With that in mind,  whatever update to the streetscape plan that gets adopted, only a few elements of it will be implemented with current funding allocations.  So this brings into question how and when the rest of it will be paid for.  When asked about seeking more grants, Leclerc did acknowledge the availability of federal and city funds, but also discussed how competitive the process was, almost to the point of discouraging pursuit of them.  The SAC offered their assistance in pursuing more money and leveraging more funds, and Leclerc promised to return to next month’s meeting with more information.  Hopefully this proves to be more than placating the crowd.

If you are interested in this process, please feel encouraged to attend future meetings.  They can be boring and process-heavy, but it is a good way to get involved with a potentially transformative project.  Also, Foster United has good coverage of the issues surrounding the streetscape plan and its refresh, so check them out.

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8 Responses to PBOT Floats Idea of Rapid Flash Beacons on Foster; Money Still an Issue

  1. Robert Bierma says:

    I would ague against the rapid flash beacons. I do not believe the value they bring in safety is correspond to there price If such funds existed I believe they could be more efficiently used. I am biased toward improvements that bring long term value, and believe short term fixes can end up being distractions and diverting energy away from the things that will make the most difference.

  2. Ceevee says:

    I agree with Robert. Rapid flash beacons are lame and unsightly. A waste of funds

  3. Arthur says:

    I feel a lot more comfortable driving past the Freddies down by 80th since they put that crossing signal there, and I’ve seen a marked improvement in people stopping to let folks cross. Mind you, I don’t have any figures to show the ROI that Robert mentions (increased safety stats per dollar), but I feel they work well. I’d love to have one at 65th and Foster. Crossing south-to-north you’ve got that telephone pole there, and so I’d love to have a flashy light as a visual prod to oncoming traffic “Hey, someone’s crossing.” I’d like to think it would also encourage people to use that crossing rather than just walk across Foster between 65th and 66th, but I know that might be too much to ask.

  4. More visual crossing cues at 65th would be a welcome addition, for sure.

  5. Will says:

    While ultimately they might be beneficial (the one by Freds is a vast improvement from what it was before); they might be jumping the gun a bit. If they end up renovating some of the curbs and corners at these crosswalk areas as part of the streetscaping plan, having to re-do these crossings would be an added cost for only short-term safety gain.

    While I’m typing about crossings; I feel like the ‘pedestrian landing zones’ they added to the middle of foster actually decrease safety. Drives have to swerve around them, which forces them to look at neighboring cars, their lane, etc instead of looking for possible pedestrians trying to cross. I would rather see them shorten the crossing distances, slow traffic and increase visibility. These improvements would have as much or more improvement than adding flashing lights.

    • Arthur says:

      That brings up the question of “when” — sure, it may be more expensive in the long-term, but the Foster street plan has been languishing for how long now..? Personally I’d like to get some small improvements made now, even if they aggregate into more cost over time.

      In my own, pretty-much-arbitrary timeline, I’d agree to wait if we’re talking about curb and corner renovation in, say, two years. If it’s longer, though — and especially if the Bob White becomes a major draw, increasing both vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area — I’d prefer to get some signals in. Rapid flash beacons, another (preferably more responsive) signal like at 63rd and Foster… something.

      (I’m with you about the islands, albeit for slightly different reasons. I’ve been nearly sideswiped by a box truck or two that just gave up trying to stay in the lane. A more gentle curve would be nice, at least.)

  6. kurtwsommer@gmail.com says:

    Instead of doing 3-4 crossing “half-way” with flashing signals, I would rather see 1-2 crossing completely done with lights, curbs, street lights, trees, sidewalk. That way, while it may only be 1 by 1, the Foster will be done right in the end.

  7. seanpliska says:

    Will, Arthur, Kurt have some great points. We want traffic to stop fully without distractions. A good example of what a crossing without a signal looks like: the crossing island at MLK on the Going st greenway (while better than nothing) provides only a modicum of safety, particularly at night. It is sometimes difficult for cars to know when to stop. Let’s get one or two actual signals in where they’re needed most. 65th and 58th are pretty good candidates.

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