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.