What do you do when there is nowhere to go? The need to plan for everyone.

19 Oct

Mode Shift member, Scott Ussery, brought a troubling circumstance to our attention at the intersection of 38th Avenue and Leavenworth. He wrote to us, “there is building demolition/construction on the Southwest corner of 38th Ave that closed the sidewalk along the south side of Leavenworth and construction on the Northeast corner of 38th Ave that has closed the sidewalk along the north side of Leavenworth.”

In other words, there was no safe path east or westbound on Leavenworth between 38th Street and 39th Street.

View to the west, you can see the sidewalks blocked on the north and south side of Leavenworth with no safe crossing or detour. Note pedestrian walking in the street on south side. Photo: Scott Ussery

This is not the norm in other cities. Most municipalities require a plan for how traffic will be managed around work zones. In order to get a project approved, you must submit a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) that details what work will be done, what affects it will have on traffic — all traffic, from vehicle lanes to bike lanes to pedestrian infrastructure — and what you will do to minimize the disruption.

This isn’t only for “big cities” with high volumes of pedestrian commuters, like Chicago or New York. Des Moines, IA, makes sure to accommodate all modes of transportation when a work zone encroaches on a traffic lane or sidewalk.

Downtown Des Moines, construction on a building required the sidewalk to be closed. People walking were accommodated by using barriers to close off part of a lane to vehicle traffic. Photo: Kevin Flatowicz-Farmer

TMPs do add to project costs, but are not prohibitive — especially when viewed through the lens of prioritizing safety and accessibility over cost and speed. With Vision Zero in the headlines, now is the time to begin thinking of what we can do to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Requiring TMPs for projects where the work zone encroaches on pedestrian infrastructure or traffic lanes is one step that will force the city to consider safety for everyone when permitting development or conducting infrastructure maintenance.

2 Responses to “What do you do when there is nowhere to go? The need to plan for everyone.”

  1. Cyndonna Tefft October 19, 2017 at 9:21 pm #

    It would be interesting to highlight all the areas in Omaha with construction that do not have a TMP. It would also be beneficial to show the areas that DO have a TMP.

    • Matt Wettengel October 19, 2017 at 10:52 pm #

      There’s also a stretch of Farnam Street on the corner of 39th toward 40th where there is no TMP in place. Pretty dangerous for such a high-traffic area, on the edge of the Blackstone district.

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