Guest Post: October Goals

October-1-2013

Guest Post By: Amy Lambert, Startup Peoria

In the next few weeks, one construction project is going to cause a great deal of havoc… and the best way to deal with it is to start thinking about it’s impact on your life now… and prepare.

A few short weeks ago we experienced what it was like for the intersection of Main Street and University Street near Bradley University to shut down.  Our swift traffic flow, something we freely take for granted here in Central Illinois, was brought to a standstill.  Neighborhood streets became clogged with traffic as crews tried to deal with a destructive water main break.  With this intersection serving as a major artery of transport, motorists made quick strategies of alternate routes disregarding detour signs.

In order to repair the damage and rebuild the intersection, it will be closed down again.  This may possibly happen before winter and, as we all know, winter is coming.  So best we each begin preparing immediately for the challenge and begin considering of alternative routes or access around this hub of transport.

City Planners, Civil Engineers, and community leaders along with representatives of surrounding neighborhoods and businesses gathered to discuss the options of design and gather ideas of stakeholders and citizens.  There was a strong feeling of care on the issue.

Conceptual ideas for the intersection were discussed.  A few different options of traffic flow for vehicles, bicycles, and foot traffic were shared.  The engineers and designers working on the project are focused on recreating the intersection to incorporate the following design elements and outcomes.

  • Sustainable – Engineers and planners desire to propose concepts to ensure that is designed and built today is the right type of traffic solution to support the growing (and changing) traffic elements for this area of Peoria.
  • Aligned with Previous Plans – The Main and University intersection and surrounding area has been the subject of study and traffic flow change implementation in the past decade.  Solutions introduced to address this new development (the water main destruction) will be instituted with the intention of alignment on what was previously decided upon.
  • Safe – Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to transportation engineering.  Did you know that roundabouts are markedly safer than our normal stop and go intersection? It’s true, but we have to scratch the roundabout solution off the list.  With more than 23,000 cars passing through the intersection per day, a double roundabout would be needed and there isn’t of a footprint to hold it.
  • Economic – While the intersection holds a great deal of through traffic, the businesses populating it are thriving destinations.  Traffic to drive and deliver customers and support deliveries throughout the construction process as well as after is a high consideration.  Surrounding blocks boast such great destinations as One World, Thanh Linh, The Great Wall, Avanti’s, Happy Fish Sushi, The Fieldhouse, Sweet CiCi’s, Jimmy John’s, and Leaves and Beans, not to forget Peoria Athletic Club.
  • Green – Central Illinois loves our foliage!  Trees and greens space were present in the conceptual ideas laid out.  Discussions on materials as well as environmental impact and design are critical elements as designers and engineers work with planners and stakeholders toward a solution.
  • Slow Traffic – With 29,000 cars passing through the intersection of Columbia Terrace and University, many coming straight off of Interstate 74’s 55 mile per hour zone, slowing the speeds of traffic requires more than signage.  Elements designed to slow the speed of traffic approaching the Main and University intersection.
  • Pedestrian Friendly – With more and more outstanding businesses thriving, more residents moving to town, and the presence of University students in on and off campus housing surrounding the intersection, foot traffic is very high.  More than a handful of personal accounts of near misses, injuries, and even a fatality, outline the importance of the introduction of a new solution heightening the safety of bike and pedestrian traffic.

The moment I’ve been waiting for is finally here. World’s are starting to collide. People who have normally sat on the sidelines of city building are starting to have a voice.

I have had the pleasure to get to know Amy through various endeavors and organizations around Peoria. As you can see by the great visual above, she has a way of capturing a conversation in more than just words. While I’ve known her for her art, education, and tech prowess, she really surprised me with this post. Like I mentioned in my post last week, most people aren’t usually concerned with something as mundane as the reconfiguration of a street intersection. However, the stars are aligning just right for people to make their opinions matter! – Thank you Amy, for taking something normally complex and making it easier for people to understand. 

If you have thoughts or opinions about developments around town and would like a place to showcase them, I’d be happy to have you as a  Guest Poster. Feel free to contact me by email anytime! 

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: October Goals

  1. Amy did a great job of summarizing the issues that need to be considered when making changes to Main and University. I would add that the Uplands and University East neighborhoods will need to have some form of calming in place to avoid becoming highways during the intersection shut-down. Most of University East is protected by calming islands, while the Underhill and Russell intersection, the most highly-traveled residential cut-thru in the city, will need some changes. Also, the practice of turning left into Avanti’s parking lot, when going North on University, will need to be dealt with. This is a major issue that has resulted in accidents and traffic congestion.

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