NDDC Presents Safe Crossing Recommendations

The NDDC presented its report on Safe Crossing of Highway 3 to the City Council last night.

Mayor Lee Lansing had asked me, as Executive Director of the NDDC, to form an Ad Hoc Task Force to offer recommendations of ideas that could contribute to increased safety in crossing the highway.

The Task Force was made up of Suzannah Ciernia, owner of Life Skills Education, myself, Dale Finger, owner of the Quarterback Club, Amy Gage, St. Olaf College Director of Communications and NDDC Board Member, Leota Goodney, owner of Leota Goodney CPA, and Mark Quinnell, owner of the State Farm Agency.

The group looked at the March 10, 1997 Report of the Ad Hoc Highway #3 Design Committee and MNDOTs current construction plans. The Task Force then held one meeting and developed a list of 10 recommendations.

The recommendations are:

1. Rename the center section of Highway 3 to John North Boulevard.

2. Longer pedestrian crossing (walk) signals.

3. Rigorously enforce the 30 mph speed limit.

4. Add a traffic light at 3rd Street.

5. Install contrasting concrete aggregate at the intersections.

6. Install street lights that are similar height and design to the ones in downtown.

7. Add signs advising that pedestrians are crossing.

8. Add a traffic light at St. Olaf Avenue.

9. Create a gateway landmark at 3rd Street.

10.Eliminate the right turn lane at 2nd Street.

Mayor’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Safe Crossing
NDDC Coordinated Report 2/11/05

Background:
At the 1/24/05 Northfield City Council meeting, Mayor Lee Lansing asked the NDDC (Northfield Downtown Development Corporation) to coordinate citizen and business input on the upcoming Highway 3 reconstruction for the Center Section or Downtown Segment. The Mayor specifically directed the group to identify and capitalize on this opportunity to link the Westside with the Downtown City Center.

Methodology:
The group, identifying itself as the Mayor’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Safe Crossing, consisted of Suzannah Ciernia, Ross Currier, Dale Finger, Amy Gage, Leota Goodney and Mark Quinnell. They reviewed the March 10, 1997 Report of the Ad Hoc Highway #3 Design Committee. A summary of that design committees recommendations is included as an appendix. The current task force also reviewed MNDOTs construction plans for this work. A summary of these plans, in the format of the 1997 Committees recommendations, is also included in the appendix. The Task Force then met to develop a list of recommendations to report back to the Mayor.

General Aims of the Task Force’s Efforts:
Certain goals shaped our recommendations. The first is that of achieving the safest possible of crossing of Highway 3 for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic. The second is to stimulate economic development both on the underutilized Westside and in the Historic Center. The third was to work to realize a concept stressed in the 1997 Report, emphasizing the Center Section as a City Street.

Further Considerations in the Task Force’s Recommendations:
Other values shaped the groups final product. The first was to revive powerful and practical recommendations from the original Committee that were not incorporated in MNDOTs plans. The second was an appreciation for the commitments of cost and schedule involved in implementing the current plans. The third was the belief that although the Highway may belong to the State of Minnesota, the Street belongs to the citizens of Northfield.

List of Recommendations for Council Consideration from the
Mayors Ad Hoc Task Force on Safe Crossing

1. Rename Center Section of Highway 3 to John North Boulevard – this will cost little and contribute to a change in perceptions about the downtown portion of the highway. We consider St. Olaf Avenue to 5th Street to be the downtown section.
2. Longer Walk Signals – make sure that the length of light for crossing is at least one second for each 3.5 to 4 feet of distance to be traveled. For a 78 foot width, this would be from 20 to 22 seconds.
3. Rigorously Enforce the 30 mph Speed Limit – give this section of Highway 3 a reputation as a speed trap for through traffic.
4. Add a traffic Light at 3rd Street: – this was a recommendation in the original report and we believe it will both greatly increase safe crossing, for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic, and begin to recognize this historic entry to downtown.
5. Install Contrasting Concrete Aggregate at the Intersections this will be a significant visual clue to vehicular traffic that they are driving where pedestrians are present and was a key recommendation from the 1997 Report.
6. Install Street Lights that are Similar Height and Design to the one in the Downtown District this will be another visual clue to vehicular traffic to slow down. The original group strongly advocated for this section of highway to look and feel like a City Street an idea that we feel is a guiding concept for increased safety.
7. Add Signs Advising that Pedestrians are Crossing both north of the aqueduct and at the intersections. These signs should be both the standards along the roadside and the sandwich boards that sit in the middle of the road.
8. Add a Traffic Light at St. Olaf Avenue plan ahead for the residential and office condominiums that will be created on the Riverfront Development Site.
9. Create a Gateway Landmark at 3rd Street this will further recognize the historic entry to downtown. Our ideas included a clocktower, a decorative arch, a fountain and a statue of John North.
10. Eliminate the Right Turn Lane at 2nd Street this will narrow the Highway by 12 feet at this crucial segment. This Turn Lane is necessitated by the two blocks of Highway 19 along this section of Highway 3. It is anticipated that there will be some rerouting of Highway 19 in the next 10 years.

Mayors Ad Hoc Task Force on Safe Crossing
Appendix

Summary of 3/10/97 Final Report by Ad Hoc Highway 3 Design Committee:

1. Alignment: Curb to curb width from 69 to 77. Center median of 8 to 16. Bike lanes of 5. Sidewalks and boulevards of 17.
2. Surface and Materials: Paving at each intersection be of contrasting concrete aggregate at the crosswalks to emphasize distinctive difference.
3. Signalization: A new traffic light to be added at 3rd Street intersection.
4. Access: Reducing accesses to private property.
5. Sidewalk, Island, and Boulevard: 12 foot landscaped boulevard and 5 foot sidewalk with several porkchops.
6. Landscaping: Use materials that will emphasize the Center Section as a City Street. Reinforce 3rd Street as historic entrance to Northfield.
7. Lighting: Should enhance the historic character of Northfield.
8. Summary: Pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, vehicle safety, encourage business, save budget for traffic calming design elements, reinforce City Street concept.

Summary of NDDCs Review of the Above Details in MNDOTs Work Plans:

1. Alignment: Curb to curb width from 78. Center median of 6. Bike lanes of 5. Sidewalks and boulevards of 17.
2. Surface and Materials: Paving at each intersection not of concrete to and contrasting bituminous at the crosswalks to emphasize distinctive difference.
3. Signalization: A traffic light be stubbed in at 3rd Street and St. Olaf.
4. Access: Reducing accesses to private property.
5. Sidewalk, Island, and Boulevard: 12 landscaped boulevard and 5 sidewalk with several porkchops.
6. Landscaping: Details to be developed in 05 for 06 implementation.
7. Lighting: Similar character to downtown but highway height standards.
8. Summary: NDDC looked for pedestrian safety, bike trail connection, visual differentiation, east-west connection defined downtown section, pedestrian level lighting, distinctive crossings.

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