Prairie Village Promotes Walkability with Road DietPosted on Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 by Kristen Leathers
In Transportation Engineering, tagged in Tags: kansas, prairie village, road diet
The community along Mission Road between 71st and 75th Street is often recognized for its walkability. With shops, schools, restaurants, and parks nearby, it is a highly sought-after neighborhood for homeowners. As traffic continued to increase along this stretch, pedestrian safety became a concern for the City of Prairie Village, Kansas with so many walking or biking to their destinations. Knowing three-lane roadways can often support the same traffic volumes as four-lanes, the city viewed this as a great opportunity to make this section more pedestrian friendly.
We kicked off this project with the review of an existing traffic study. Our team looked at current traffic, future traffic, and the priorities of the community. We ultimately found this roadway section could be reduced from four, undivided lanes to a three-lane section with a center, two-way, left turn lane (TWLTL). This would improve safety, while still providing good traffic flow.
Building consensus within the community was incredibly important to the success of this project. We started by working with the council sub-committee before bringing it to the public. We showed the committee how a road diet, or reduction in lanes, worked and illustrated how the engineering principles would be put into action. This allowed them to confidently speak with constituents and make decisions easily.
We also gave residents design options throughout our public engagement process, ensuring they felt confident in the final product. Early on, residents wanted many things, such as a wider sidewalk on both sides of the street, bike lanes, landscaping, and other place-making features. Throughout the public process, we helped them discern which of these were most needed, while ensuring the selected features were not only within budget, but would also fit within the physical constraints of the corridor. Pedestrian safety was the one aspect on which everyone agreed.
“The education Affinis offered the council subcommittee was extremely helpful. They helped us understand the technical issues and constraints, which let us make informed choices about the Mission Road improvements. With what I learned through the process, I was able to easily answer constituent questions and share details about the project,” said Eric Mikkelson, Prairie Village City Council.
To continue to encourage pedestrian usage, we scaled street lighting and added placemaking with banners along the section. We provided green space between the sidewalk and back of curb to improve aesthetics. Seat walls and benches with low-maintenance planting areas were also used to create an inviting pedestrian route.
The project was completed before the first day of the 2016 school year. Public Works was pleased to see traffic moving smoothly during peak hours and students safely walking along the new, 8-foot sidewalk. The improvements have met everyone’s expectations and filled the community’s needs.