by Chuck Hoven. (Plain Press, January 2015) On December 11th residents and stakeholders along the Clark Avenue corridor gathered at Clark Recreation Center for a Transportation for Livable Communities planning meeting for a 2.5 mile stretch of the Clark Avenue corridor from Quigley to W. 65th. This was the second of three public meetings on the planning effort. The third meeting is scheduled for February 12th at 6 p.m. at Pilgrim Church on W. 14th. The final report from the consultant is expected to be ready by March 27, 2015. The Stockyard, Clark Fulton Brooklyn Centre Development Office and Tremont West Development Corporation received a grant from the Northeast Ohio Area wide Coordinating Agency to hire a consultant for the study.
Residents and stakeholders wishing to see more information on the planning presentation can visit the Tremont West Development Website at tremontwest.org or the Stockyard Clark Fulton Brooklyn Centre page of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization website at dscdo.org/scfbc. An article on the first meeting on October 29th, Clark Avenue planning underway (Plain Press, December 2014) is available on the Plain Press website at www.plainpress.org.
The presentation by planners at the December meeting offered an update in the planning process. Planners had measured Clark Avenue in various locations and learned that the width of the sidewalk varied from 8’ to 10’ wide and the width of the street varied from 34’ to 40’ feet. Those present had an opportunity to choose from various lane options presented for different stretches of Clark Avenue with on street parking lanes, bike lanes, shared bicycle and motor vehicle lanes, and turn lanes.
Matt Hils of Behnke Landscape Architecture, a consultant working on the plan, said the goal is to make the Clark Avenue Corridor a stronger, better and more memorable place. He said the plan would encourage new businesses and redevelopment of the corridor. He said while Clark Avenue currently is dominated by car traffic (90% of users), the plan hopes to make the corridor more accommodating to walkers and cyclists.
Hils reported that preliminary responses from area transit users indicated that bus stops were accessible, but there was not enough service or shelters. Planners reported that RTA requires a minimum of 50 persons per day to board the bus at a location to consider building a shelter. Also they require a 12 foot by 6 foot space to house a shelter. They concluded it would be difficult to obtain additional bus shelters on Clark Avenue.
Planners also talked about adding some additional elements to the street such as a mid block crosswalk by Clark Elementary School, more street trees, more green space, better lighting, benches, trash receptacles and fancier pavement. Other amenities suggested were more public art and an outdoor market, La Villa Hispaña Plaza. While planners suggested the parking lot on the southwest corner of W. 25th and Clark, one resident in attendance said that lot is needed for parking and the parking lot on the Southeast corner may be a better location.
Planners said the choice to do the section of Clark from Quigley to W. 65th was part of an effort to connect with other existing plans including a plan to create a bike path along W. 65th from the Lake to Denison and the towpath trail coming through the area by Quigley. They hope to link with signage the end of the Clark improvements with an entranceway to Clark Field as well.
Merchants along Clark Avenue were well represented at the meeting and made it clear that they did not want to relinquish on street parking spots on Clark Avenue. They made a case that both residents and businesses need parking along Clark.
Jeff Ramsey, who is directing the Stockyard, Clark Fulton and Brooklyn Center Community Development Office, noted that in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood the street redesign accommodated both parking and bike lanes. Planners said that slowing traffic to better accommodate pedestrians and bicycle travel has shown to increase commercial activity in locations where it has been tried.
One local resident complained that areas of Fulton, which now have a single lane with no stopping, are often backed up when someone chooses to ignore the no stopping signs. He said lack of enforcement of the rule results in traffic jams. He wondered what would happen when buses stopped in areas of Clark proposed for a single lane of traffic and a bicycle lane.
Having measured the width of Clark Avenue in various locations, planners ruled out some intersections for possible turn lanes saying the street is too narrow to accommodate them. They did say that W. 25th and Clark needs turn lanes and is wide enough to accommodate them. They said with left turn lanes across from each other, the sight lines would be better and the intersection would be safer.
Hils said to help accommodate more pedestrian and bicycle traffic along Clark Avenue an effort would be made to eliminate some of the driveways – especially where there are unused driveways to vacant properties. Scranton resident Henry Senyak reported that Hils said that existing businesses with entrances and exists on Clark that also have access from a side street, may be asked to consider eliminating the Clark Avenue driveways.
Those present were asked to look at the various options for street layouts in different sections of Clark Avenue and vote on them. Some of the options in areas where Clark is only 34’ wide included 5’ wide bike lanes on either side with two 12’ wide motor vehicle traffic lanes and no parking or turn lanes; and two 12’ wide traffic lanes with sharrows painted on the street (lanes shared by bikes and motor vehicles) with a 10’ wide center turn lane. The planners also presented the option for areas away from intersections to use 10’ of street space either for one lane of parking or bike lanes on both sides of the street.