OLEAN – After a new round of public meetings and hearings, a new design for North Union Street is starting to take shape. City Public Works Director, Tom Windus, said the design is in place for presentation at Tuesday’s meeting of the Common Council.
The plan, similar to that proposed several times by consultants from the Buffalo firm, Hatch Mott McDonald, calls for the same five roundabouts but would make changes to a few other aspects, Windus said.
“Most people didn’t like the idea of the diagonal, back-in parking,” he said. “Our recommendation is to leave parking as is, on the street. Drivers will be able to pull into the space.”
In addition, a recommendation was made to do away with individual meters at every parking space. The future of paid parking on the street would be something to be discussed in the future, Windus said.
“We could make the spaces free to park,” he said. “Or, we could install kiosks, or even chalk tires to determine the time limits.”
Another change would be seen on the diagonal parking. The current parking spaces are 15 feet long. The recommendation, with vehicle changes that have taken place according to Windus, would make the size of the spaces 17 feet.
“If you drive out there [on North Union Street] now, you will see some larger trucks with the front of their vehicle up on the sidewalk to get the back out of the street,” he said. “Sometimes, you will see the back of a large vehicle out in the lane of traffic.
“The longer spaces will do away with that.”
The original plan calls for bicycle lanes. The new plan, the result of the public input, would have two different bike lane sizes, one on the southern stretch of the street and one on the northern side. Windus said that, from Wayne Street to Main Street, the bike lane would be 7 feet wide with one stripe. That area would be designed to handle the trucks used to ship larger compressor units from Dresser Rand. The trucks generally need a clearance of 18-feet, 6 inches. Even with the bicycle lane, the roadway from Wayne to Main would measure 20 feet wide.
The new plan recommends use of a scaled down, raised median. That median, originally proposed at 16 feet wide, would be cut in half to 8 feet, Windus said.
The reduced median still would offer a primary function for safety, giving enough room for pedestrians to cross the street, offering them refuge from moving traffic. Another benefit of the median being reduced by 8 feet, and the sidewalk expanded by 4 feet, is a net gain of 4 feet of roadway. That means drivers would have more room to maneuver around delivery vehicles and move out of the way of emergency vehicles, Windus said.
The medians, Windus said, would also be recommended as the site for fire hydrants on North Union Street, removing them from sidewalks. All utility lines would be buried, he said, and the result would be a street that would be power line-free.
Design work on the final concept will be completed by Friday, Windus said. That will give the members of the Common Council a chance to look over the design and to have it available for viewing as it is presented to the public on Tuesday at a 5 p.m. informational meeting in the City Building, 101 E. State St.
The process will have a very tight window, Windus told the members of the committee. Since the federal government wants to use TIGER grants to fund shovel-ready projects, everything has to be in place to get work going no later than September of 2014, he said. The project would take an estimated two years of construction to complete. Agreements with the federal and state offices, as well as consultants, are expected to be approved at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.