Monday, May 23, 2011

Roadway Design by Petition?

Sent this to Council

Dear Council

I'll start out by saying I am sending you this in my capacity as a voter and resident, speaking for myself.

The Sunday Monitor reported that you will discuss on Tuesday the recent petition drive(s) on Trinity Drive design since approximately 500 people signed petition(s) on its design.

First, I don't think I need to remind Council that 500 people don't make for a majority. I respect those who are alarmed enough to sign petitions, but I also looked up the results of the last election that resulted in the present Council:

County Council (2010), votes for each candidate

James Hall (R)                 4,952
Ronald Selvage (R)         4,750
Geoffrey Rodgers (R)      4,454
Frances Berting (R)         4,368
Kenneth Johnson (D)      4,027
Deborah Gill (D)             3,939
Betty Ann Gunther (D)   3,222

(based on the State House District 43 race (local results), at least 8647 people in LAC voted in the election).


Even the seventh place Council candidate (who lost) had roughly six times the votes as these petitions have signatories; those who won had over eight times the votes.  So if Council decides that we need to make a decision on Trinity by referendum rather than by our professional staff, Council vote, and multiple county board advice to Council, then we really ought to first screen the designs to ensure that only those designs which meet professional engineering standards (and meet design guidelines Council recently adopted for county streets) are put forward, and then put the successful ones to a vote.

Different designs will require different compromises. A 35 mph four or more lane highway will need more ped overpasses, underpasses, or stoplights in order to ensure that we can safely cross the street. I think that is one of the issues that consistently gets glossed over. No design that successfully meets our recently accepted design criteria (i.e., that provides good pedestrian crossing connectivity and serves motorists, bus riders, and others with adequate throughput) and serves development South of Trinity will escape compromise.

I see that the petitioners have mandated four travel lanes and bike lanes. This may result in some pretty serious design flaws (i.e., bike lanes that result in a high likelihood of intersection crashes) if done wrong. Roadway design, like brain surgery, should not be performed by amateurs. This could lead to disaster.

Finally, I was sent this following link on signalized intersection non-compliance. Makes for interesting viewing. Mind you, I'm not convinced that any roadway design is completely foolproof unless citizens respect the law and respect each other's safety. But when signalized intersections are criticized for providing high risk types of crashes, this is what is being discussed:


Khalil J. Spencer

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