A handful of residents attended last Wednesday’s Main Street Public Information Meeting to learn about possible traffic calming measures including curb bump-outs and pedestrian signals as part of the city’s Main Street Traffic Study.
Kevin Wehner of KL Engineering, conducting the study for the city, made a 30 minute presentation during the Oct. 17 meeting that followed about a half hour of interaction that included questions from residents, Council President Bill Connors and Mayor Paul Esser.
Final recommendations will be presented in a report due in December, according to Wehner.
Wehner explained several challenges in the Main Street Corridor from Grove Street to O’Keeffe Avenue: a limited amount of right-of-way, downtown traffic congestion, pedestrian safety concerns — and not just school students — as well as redevelopment projects in the corridor.
For the last Main Street Public Information meeting, KL Engineering completed a safety assessment that found the crash rate for Main Street was 12 percent higher than the statewide average for peer roads.
Using input incorporated from the last meeting, KL Engineering heard a lot of issues relating to the Linnerud Drive intersection with Main Street. A number of solutions have been proposed for the corridor, Wehner said.
Wehner said pedestrian-geared solutions including a “Leading pedestrian interval” — which is a traffic signal that gets pedestrians into the street and forces motorists to yield the right-of-way. The signals are timed so pedestrians go into the crosswalk first, then the light turns green, allowing cars to proceed. The interval is recommended for signals at Walker Way (the east approach only), Bristol Street and at the intersection of Market and Main.
Lane Assignment Markings — The Lane Assignment Markings include Bristol Street pavement marking recommendations. While watching video of the Bristol-Main intersection pre-July 10, Wehner explained that clear lane-assigned pavement markings get rid of uncertainty for drivers, with fewer movements happening. This may not include changing any pavement markings for crosswalks, but instead making them wider, so drivers notice them more.
“There are several different variations to the assumed lane assignments,” Wehner said, while the video played in the council chambers, where both Main Street Public Information Meetings have taken place. The existing pavement markings present difficulty for pedestrians trying to predict where motorists are going. Wehner showed a video of the Market-Main intersection, where a motorist went through a crosswalk where a pedestrian stopped before crossing.
The Lane Assignment Markings are proposed for Bristol Street, Market Street, and at the Vine and Linnerud intersection.
Pedestrian Flashing Beacons — The beacons draw motorist attention to school zone signs.
“We recommend that it be put overhead,” Wehner said. As an example, Wehner showed a similar sign placed at the Midvale Boulevard and Keating Terrace intersection in Madison, where motorists can see a school zone is in the area.
Wehner said KL Engineering is recommending the Pedestrian Flashing Beacons to be placed at Kroncke Drive, Ruby Lane and Foxdale Drive.
Spacing crosswalks — More crosswalk/parking space is needed because there should be at least one parking space, or about 15 feet, behind the crosswalk to allow pedestrians to be seen by motorists. At least one intersection uses space adjacent to crosswalks for parking.
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon with crosswalk sign — The Rectangular Flashing Beacon, found throughout Madison, are higher visibility than regular overhead signs. “It’s operated by a pedestrian,” Wehner explained. The flashing beacon has a higher impact and serves as a better warning to a motorist, but it also has a higher cost. The Rectangular Flashing Beacon is recommended at Ruby Lane and mid-block at Clarmar Drive.
Curb Bump-outs — “With curb bumpouts,” Wehner said, “you actually change where the curb is located.”
Curb bump-outs reduce the space for pedestrians to cross the street and can already be found on Columbus Street. The corners of the intersection are fitted with semi-circular pavement.
The result is that pedestrians have fewer feet to walk in order to cross busy intersections. The crosswalk in a curb bump-out would correspond with an overhead stop bar.
Wehner recommended the stop bars and bump-outs for Main Street intersections with Linnerud Drive and Grove Street as well as Ruby Lane and mid-block at Clarmar.
“This doesn’t have to be all or nothing here,” Wehner said.
Overhead signals — This is already being done with the reconstruction of Bristol Street. Wehner said without an overhead signal, it makes traffic signals more difficult to see. Previously, the signals were only placed on poles on the corners of the intersection.
Retroreflective backplates for signal heads — Like reflective tape on bicycles, the reflective back plates shine headlights back to motorists at night, framing each signal in a yellow reflection so they are more visible at night, or in low light conditions such as blizzards and rain storms.
Wehner said it could potentially be implemented at every traffic signal in the corridor.
Flashing Yellow Arrow in every signal lane — Currently only found in traffic lanes in the Prairie Lakes retail development, the yellow signal arrow allows a dedicated signal head for the left turn lane. Wehner said it should be added to lanes along Main Street to avoid confusion about when left turns are allowed.
General traffic signal recommendations
Wehner listed several recommendations to upgrade and update the traffic signals in the Main Street corridor, including:
Remote communication — This allows signals to be operated remotely from an office somewhere in the corridor or from the Sun Prairie Municipal Building.
GPS timeclocks — This times the signals to be coordinated so that back-ups don’t occur during congested periods of time.
Bicycle detection — Bicycles will be able to trip signals as they use the intersections.
Remove signals from flash at night — Currently, signals in the downtown area, as well as elsewhere in the corridor, are set to default to flash at 10 p.m.
“We would like to run it where normal operations happen all day,” Wehner said.
Leaving signals on for normal operations 24 hours per day will also allow bicycles to trip the signals, especially in the morning as bicyclists make their way to work.
Coordination at selected locations — Coordination should be restored at Market and Bristol and with other signals at other intersections — including new signals in the corridor as development continues, Wehner said.
“We do not recommend a signal at Ruby [Lane] right now,” Wehner said. But as development continues, Ruby Lane will be a consideration.
KL Engineering will present its final study recommendations during a December wrap-up meeting. Individuals interested in submitting written comments, or suggestions, about the Main Street corridor should email them to City of Sun Prairie Director of Public Services/City Engineer Adam Schleicher at firstname.lastname@example.org.