Residents worry city’s $3.3M plan won’t do enough to fix crash-prone Franklin Boulevard

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UPDATE: At the meeting on Thurs. 7/29, the city of Cleveland provided extensive information about how the mini-roundabouts planned for Franklin Boulevard will slow car traffic through their design features. Additionally, city representatives stated that they are currently in the process of developing a policy for raised crosswalks and that they could be added to Franklin Boulevard sometime in the future.

The city of Cleveland has announced plans to spend $3.3 million on a new streetscape aimed at calming traffic on Franklin Boulevard. It made substantial changes after receiving community feedback, but some residents are concerned about the elimination of raised crosswalks.

A public meeting has been organized for Thursday, July 29 at 6:30 pm at Waverly School to present the updated plans.

A 2018 study from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) recommended but the city’s plans do not currently include them. A public meeting has been organized for Thursday, July 29 at 6:30 pm at Waverly School to present the updated plans.

The ambitious Franklin Boulevard re-do, which has been in the works for several years, arose from longstanding resident concerns about car crashes on the street. Residents provided feedback to the plans in April and May. The current, updated plan calls for removing traffic signals between West 85th and West 25th Streets, replacing them with mini-roundabouts intended to slow traffic, adding crosswalks with flashing signals at pedestrian crossings, adding new crosswalks, and creating bump-outs at crossings.

However, the city eliminated raised crosswalks from the final plan because the city does not have a “policy” for them and wants to pilot them on smaller residential side streets with fewer cars before bringing them to major arteries. Raised crosswalks, or ramped speed tables spanning the entire width of the roadway, are a traffic calming feature that has been used in other cities in Ohio including Cincinnati and Delaware.

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“Although some adjustments from the TLCI plan are necessary as the design advances from conceptual to engineering design standards, many of the plan recommendations are incorporated in the project designs presented on this website, including replacing traffic signals with neighborhood traffic circles, adding high visibility crosswalks and rectangular rapid flashing beacons, and using no parking zones to define the roadway and shorten pedestrian crossing distances,” the city’s updated website states.

Yet some Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway residents have raised concerns that the long-sought plan wouldn’t achieve its safety goals without raised crosswalks as well as lowering the speed limit from 35 to 25 miles per hour (which is ultimately up to the state of Ohio).

“While there are definite improvements, the main concerns with this iteration are no raised crosswalks” as well as the lack of four-way crosswalks in some places and the curb heights of the traffic circles, said Ohio City resident Antonio Marinucci. “It’s going to be a massive waste of taxpayer dollars if they put something in that’s not safe.”

Detroit Shoreway resident Jamye Jamison commented, “I would love to see raised crosswalks in the city. I think at this point the city itself is not at the point where they’re willing to do that. Perhaps in this project that will push the process along faster.”

Ashley Shaw, chief operating officer and director of planning for Ohio City Inc., said, “This is a big opportunity to do something progressive, and if we don’t get it right, we may never be able to do something like this again. We’re pushing the city to do raised crosswalks at a later date if this doesn’t work.”

The city has said it will continue to pursue lowering the speed limit with the state and that recent policy changes could make that easier. However, the website states, “Even with these policy revisions, the current dynamics of Franklin Blvd. may not qualify it for a 25 mph speed limit, underscoring the importance of physical improvements to the roadway to calm traffic and support a lower posted speed limit.”

Regarding the raised crosswalks, the website states, “The TLCI plan recommended raised crosswalks at unsignalized intersections along Franklin where additional pedestrian priority was desired. The raised crosswalks were recommended at different locations than the mini-roundabouts, and as proposed in the TLCI did not have an interactive relationship with or impact on the effectiveness of the mini-roundabouts. At this time, the City does not have a finalized policy for raised crosswalks, speed tables, or speed humps, so they are not included for implementation in this project. The City is developing a pilot policy for this type of traffic calming feature, in coordination within the city administration, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Safety, and City Council, which would allow them to be installed on select lower volume residential side streets to inform final eligibility criteria for installation on other streets.”

The project update meeting is set for tonight, Thursday July 29, at 6:30 pm at Waverly School at 1805 W. 57th Street, Cleveland 44102.

Past complete and green streets coverage in The Land:

Analysis: City of Cleveland is quietly blocking citizen planning efforts for safer, bike-friendly streets

One year after $8M Fulton Road re-do, car crashes are up 20%

University Circle campaign aims to hit the brakes on alarming rise in crashes involving pedestrians

Cleveland City Council introduces ordinance to improve street safety for vulnerable road users

Lee Chilcote is editor of The Land.

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