Monday, March 28, 2011

Masonic Proposal Refined to Include New Parking; Interim Measures Await Clear Skies

Masonic residents and neighborhood associations support Masonic re-design

Extra-wide Turk looking west from Lyon intersection

Ample space for angled parking on Turk and a measure to discourage speeding

City planners have refined the Masonic Traffic Calming Project to include new angled, on-street parking along the north side of Turk Street east of Masonic. The changes come as part of an internal review at the Municipal Transportation Agency prior to submitting the proposal to a MTA hearing officer at a public hearing expected in May. Interim traffic calming measures – primarily re-striping cross walks and faded lanes and adding new 25 MPH
advisories on the roadway surface – are ready for implementation but have been delayed during this month’s wet weather.

Last year community members encouraged adding new parking to the Masonic proposal and suggested the north side of Turk east of Masonic between Central and Baker. These two blocks are especially wide and, along the north side, do not have curb cuts or driveways. In addition to mitigating the impact of parking removal on Masonic, back-in angled parking on Turk could calm traffic on a street that neighbors often complain is too dangerous for crossing. Angled parking would present drivers with less of the open freeway appearance that Turk now provides without actually reducing traffic lane width. Motorists backing up their vehicles would be another visual cue to other drivers to proceed with more caution.

Javad Mirabdal, the MTA Project Director for the Masonic re-design, said last week the proposal has been reviewed by two internal “task groups.” Part of that process is to determine whether the plan raises red flags among police, fire, and ambulance services over adequate access and travel during emergencies. Then another, larger group of 40-50 planners will review the plan before a public hearing is scheduled.
We’re moving forward to a public hearing. We’re shooting for it to be in May. We’ve done some fine-tuning and we’re working on the environmental clearance.
Mirabdal said he hopes there won’t be problems with the environmental clearance, and so far there haven't been. Other observers of the process explained that bicycle and pedestrian improvements as well as parking have been removed from environmental reviews required by the state. Basically, no definition or threshold for what it or isn’t acceptable in these areas exist, and thus the changes cannot be determined detrimental on an environmental basis.

If the many supporters of the Masonic proposal – especially those who live on or within a block of the corridor – testify at the public hearing, the hearing officer will likely feel confident about approving the plan, according to Mirabdal. He said he remained optimistic and hopeful for the project.
If we get this through, Masonic will be a good case for the city. It will show that we can redesign a street and get so much more from it.
For other articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.

1 comment:

  1. A lot of our streets, are ~40 feet wide, allowing for much speeding, when ~30 foot wide streets would do fine, and make for a much more pedestrian-friendly city. As such, I don't mind diagonal/perpendicular parking, since it does result in an effective narrowing of the streets. On the other hand, more parking may well result in more cars, which isn't so good.

    I'd be happy to support more of this sort of parking in exchange for some of the following: reduced parking requirements for new buildings (the buildings we build will last for many decades, while street space can be reallocated if necessary), bike lanes replacing other parking where necessary (like the obvious Oak St.).