Thirty residents of North Park sat in foldout chairs on the hardwood basketball court inside North Park's recreation center on March 24 to hear the details of the University Avenue Mobility Plan. Jeff Szymanski from the city's developmental services department stood at a podium underneath an electronic scoreboard. He handed the mic to Julie Ballesteros from the city's engineering and capital projects division, who then presented the two phases of the plan.
The plan is meant to improve traffic flow, safety, transit flow, and create a pedestrian friendly environment while reducing speeding, accommodating bicyclists, and beautifying the corridor from Florida Street east to Boundary Street, the entire length of North Park.
To achieve this, the mobility plan proposes landscaped medians, turn pockets, and includes using two of the four lanes of traffic as dedicated lanes for transit and cyclists. In addition, the proposal includes "enhanced pedestrian crossings" and curb extensions for the 1.25-mile length of University Avenue.
After the presentation, residents commented on the impacts that the project might have on the community. Don Leichtling was the first to take the mic. He asked that planners look into traffic measures that would prohibit commuters from taking side streets while trying to skirt traffic on University Avenue. "I'd like to see some protection for residential areas. People will avoid traffic by driving through the neighborhoods."
Other residents had concerns about parking impacts for local businesses during the three years of construction, while some worried that construction vehicles will decrease parking for residents.
Of the 30 residents in attendance, only 8 spoke on the issue. In September, the city expects to release the draft environmental impact report for comment.
Construction on the project is set for January 2012, after the public has had a chance to review the environmental impact report and after the finishing touches are added to the design.
The estimated cost of phase one, which includes the core area, is $3.37 million with $1.9 in construction costs. For phase two, the cost is anticipated at $4.84 million with $3.94 million in construction costs.
Contact Julie Ballesteros at the city's engineering and capital projects division for more information: [email protected].