From: Kevin Gallatin Date: Nov 13 02:25
I’ve been spending a lot of time walking in Highland Village with my family since we moved a few blocks away. It strikes me that the Village has some opportunities to improve walkability. In short, crossing Ford Parkway or Cleveland is frightening, and the streetscape is in very poor condition. I’d be interested in hearing about any efforts to address this.
The recent upgrades to pedestrian crossing signals has helped, but I hope that more can be done over time. I think one of the biggest factors is the sweeping curve the curb makes on each corner which adds around 6-10 feet of traffic conflict to any pedestrian crossing (incidentally I have one of these poorly designed intersections right in front of my house at Fairview and Highland Parkway). Modern design principles often call for bump-outs to narrow the street, or pedestrian refuges in the median where pedestrians can dive for cover when cars careen at them. I also hope that the continuation of Cretin Avenue through the former Ford plant site will help spread out the traffic. I’ve looked at the sample plans and I’d really like to use a future curving Cretin-Montreal connector.
I remember the brick planters and sidewalks being put in when I was a kid. They were really nice looking in the 80s but clearly they’ve outlived their serviceable life. Does anyone know what the plans are to replace the walks and planters? I hate to think how another assessment would affect businesses, but I think they could grow their revenue a lot with a more walkable and attractive environment.
From: Shawn Bartsh Date: Nov 13 13:59
You are one of many voices who have been saying this for the last several years. I chair the Highland Business Association committee that worked with property owners and the City departments (public works, forestry, PED, lighting) to develop a new streetscape plan including replacement of the sidewalks, planters and lighting. The plan has been completed, we just need the funding. When the Walgreens site was developed, they used the new design on their sidewalks and boulevards so if you want to see what the Village will look like eventually, you can look at the half block in front of Walgreens and the parcels on either side of it.
Last year we submitted a request to the city through the Capital Improvement Budget Committee (CIB) to help offset the cost of the project – property owners would also be assessed for their portion of the cost. The Highland District Council partnered with us in this request as did city departments. Unfortunately with almost 2 miles of sidewalk in the Village, the cost is very high and the project was not ranked high enough by the committee to get funding. The good news is that the sidewalks person from Public Works pursued alternate funding (money from a different project in Highland that didn’t go forward) so at least a portion of the sidewalks are scheduled to be done next year (those with grass boulevards) .
We will submit another proposal and in addition have met with the Metro Transit people as they have plans that may provide some additional funding. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to contact the mayor’s office (our city council member, Chris Tolbert is already a strong supporter of the project) and ask the Mayor to make this a priority. His contact info is:
Mayor Chris Coleman (651) 266-8510 http://www.ci.stpaul.mn.us/forms.aspx?FID=65
Also, if anyone is willing to testify at a committee hearing when the proposal comes up again, please email me with your contact information and I will let you know when the hearing is. I would also be more than happy to talk with anyone about the design or suggestions they may have. I have boxes of documents, plans and maps you are more than welcome to review.
Thanks you for your interest and support for the project.
Bartsh Law Office
From: Catherine Leimbach Date: Nov 13 15:22
Regarding busy intersections, when I was in Ireland, one solution to busy intersections was this: vehicles traveled in one direction, no pedestrians. Vehicles traveled the other way, no pedestrians. No vehicles traveled and pedestrians crossed in all directions. This could be enforced during the peak times lunch and rush hours. Last evening at 5:30, I even saw a school bus run the red light on Ford. It was absolutely red long before the driver even hit the intersection and luckily no one was in the way of the bus. This goes on CONSTANTLY. (The city could make a fortune, handing out red-light violation tickets.)If all traffic came to a stop, maybe there would be less frequent red light violations.
I travel through the Ford/Cleveland interestion frequently on a daily basis, and another thing I find appalling is the number of people who jay-walk in the middle of the block, in the area of the Highland Theater. Worse, I often see disabled people doing it– elderly people with walkers and canes! It makes me crazy. I don’t know that there is any solution to it, short of police patrolling the area and giving out warning tickets. It would be very nice if there were flashing “pedestrian crossing” lights at Pinehurst and Cleveland. Maybe people would be more likely to cross down there, instead of jaywalking, if it were safer. It’s a short block.
Winter is coming and I sure hope the businesses will be more careful to shovel their sidewalks and make it easier to get to parked cars too. I HATE walking in Highland when the snow flies as the snow banks and curbs are so difficult to maneuver. And I’m able-bodied!
Well, I have LOTS of problems, solutions and ideas but won’t bore anyone with more.
Good luck to everyone to effect change here in our Village!
From: Annette Rondano Date: Nov 13 15:47
As a business owner in the area, I think that one easy and FREE thing the HDC could do is to reduce the speed limit in the Village.
Yellow lines painted on the street surface and posted MPH on the street surface would be cheap and make a HUGE difference.
People in cars careen through the neighborhood like it’s a freeway. Honking and illegal passing are a constant threat to pedestrians and make the Village noisy, threatening to peds and unnavigable by bicycle. Something must be done, and I appreciate this post!
Also, pedestrians cross the streets in the middle, and it seems to be a natural thing to want to in a village this size. How about adding one more pedestrian crossing 1/2 block from the main intersection so that cars will have to stop twice… this will slow traffic naturally and force pedestrians to yield to cars in a safer way.
I also advocate for speed bumps at the 1/2 block.
I like what they do in places like Denmark, where they have a 3-way light system:
1 light for eastbound / 1 light for westbound / 1 light for pedestrians
This would be great too.
From: James C. Megas Date: Nov 13 17:26
I agree that pedestrian safety is a *major* issue in Highland. (And probably everywhere else too.) I honestly think most drivers do not know that pedestrians in crosswalks have the right of way. Studies have shown that most people do not even know that STOP signs mean to come to a complete stop. Many people say they mean “slow down and PREPARE to stop.”
I walk my two beagles four times per day in Highland and, when conditions are at all precarious I always wear a bright orange and lime green traffic vest and, when the weather is warmer, I wear a lime green hat with reflective tape. I also always carry military-grade LED flashlights. I still have had *many* close calls. Cars turning almost *never* look for pedestrians, for example.
I have written Michael Paymar about the issue. This is a major concern for him, and he wrote me back a page and one-half long form letter regarding what he has done for pedestrian safety, which is considerable. I suggest everyone on this list write Mr. Paymar on this issue to help him to make his case.
I also encourage traffic vests and LED flashlights. You can purchase extremely powerful flashlights which are very small. I have a 600 lumen light which uses one battery, for example, and it easily fits in my pocket. It is also useful to warn bicyclists, who are also not particularly respectful of pedestrians.
James C. Megas, Owner
Lake Superior Sands, LLC
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