Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Council passes Washington Street grand compromise 8-1

The City Council working off a resolution for painted bike lanes introduced by Council President Jen Giattino overwhelmingly approved the basis of that amended plan for Washington St. 8-1.

An original administration plan for protected bike lanes and a narrowed roadway became a roadblock for public acceptance in a long awaited Washington St. redesign. The City Council eventually came out of a transportation subcommittee meeting last night with an alternative plan.

Giattino in the end dissented with an amended change to the painted lanes differentiated with a lesser painted version called a sharrow designation on the northern end above 8th St. See photos below.

A number of business owners and others members of the public tried to stifle the creation of any painted bike lanes on Washington St. The attendance at the meeting was however lower than the special meeting held a week ago Monday.

The photo depicts a Class II bike lane on a street featuring buffers on
both sides within US guidelines. The City Council approved this standard
for downtown below 8th Street.

The current architecture of Washington St. will be preserved, a major business concern with the addition of some available parking due to angled back-in parking on streets on the northern end of town above 8th St.

Earlier Mayor Zimmer addressed the public at the meeting after awarding proclamations for Black History Month, washing her hands of the idea of any painted unprotected bike lanes on Washington Street noting the council may have "other ideas." She did not endorse the eventual plan which passed for safety concerns.

One feature of the redesigned Washington St. will be painted designated Class II bike lanes below 8th Street with a safety space of six feet across meeting US guidelines.

The discussion ran well over two hours before Councilman Peter Cunningham suggested an uptown change reducing the painted bike lanes further above 8th Street which was quickly embraced by council members Ravi Bhalla, Michael Defusco and key approval from Ruben Ramos.

Ramos stated he didn't want to further delay approval of a plan and noted this was a council solution and conversations had taken place between all of the members and the public before the compromise solution was reached.

The approval by the City Council means groundbreaking is possible this fall with passage of a funding ordinance.

An aggressive construction plan projects a calendar year to complete the Washington St. redesign.

The sharrow indicators for bikes will be featured above 8th St.
The difference uptown will allow for more angled parking.

Talking Ed Note: Council President Giattino wasn't comfortable with the amendment to her resolution on the fly and said the council should work off suggestions by engineering professionals. In the end, the council came together and acted to complete an approval tonight.