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Main Street plans unveiled, unfunded

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — City officials have plans on the books for renovations to Main Street — just don’t expect them to be constructed any time soon.

In a late September meeting, council members voted to send Main Street corridor improvement plans to the Planning Commission for further consideration. However, with no money in sight for the project, it will likely remain unrealized for the foreseeable future until funding sources are identified.

City officials initiated a study concerning a section of Main Street between Boyer and Division avenues in the 2011 budget. In response, the city hired consultants Ruen-Yeager and Associates to evaluate potential improvements to the street.

After talking with owners of apartments, houses and businesses along the street, Ruen-Yeager and Associates engineers crafted two separate concepts — the Greenway option and the Circulation option.

The Greenway option aims to calm traffic by disconnecting Main Street from Boyer Avenue and establishing a roundabout at Cedar and Boyer. The plan also emphasized green spaces, with a priority set on establishing a pleasant and eye-catching residential area, according to engineer Eric Olson.

On the other hand, the Circulation option focuses on improving the cluttered intersections between Ella and Florence avenues. It uses a roundabout at Cedar and Main and another at Florence Avenue to sort out traffic more effectively.

Sandpoint residents agreed that something eventually needs to be done about the troublesome intersection at Cedar and Boyer. Boyer resident Paul Strickley and Pastor Stanley Norman of the Sandpoint United Methodist Church both preferred the Greenway option was the best bet to improve safety, quality of life and aesthetic value in the area.    

“We’ve witnessed a number of accidents at the four-way stop at Boyer and Cedar,” Norman said. “The other thing is that to avoid that intersection, people cut through our parking lot going the wrong way all the time.”

At the recommendation of City Planner Jeremy Grimm, council members voted to send the plans to the Planning Commission for more input. The vote was unanimous, with council members Justin Schuck and Shelby Rognstad abstaining due to a conflict of interest.   

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21 comments:

  • Luv83864 posted at 6:57 pm on Sun, Oct 7, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    I should have stated that the close calls are because people don't know how to drive through the roundabout properly.

     
  • Corey Greve posted at 9:43 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    I am having a hard time believing we are talking about the same roundabout. I have driven through it several times with a full size truck, pulling a 20 foot trailer with an 8000 pound tractor on it. No problem. I have watched large box trucks, school buses, and 53' tractor/trailer rigs negotiate it with no issues. Is it that fact that you have to wait 15 extra seconds to get home from NAPA that has you miffed? How long wold you wait if it were a traffic signal? What if that 53' truck had to negotiate the 90 degree turn that used to be there, and he had to wait for all left turning traffic to clear so that he could swing wide to make the corner? Would that be preferable? If that intersection were just a four way stop, it would be the nightmare that Cedar/Boyer is today. I guarantee you the truck drivers that are northbound on Boyer would much rather make a right turn at the roundabout than the right turn onto Cedar.

    Do me a favor, take a few minutes and watch each intersection at 7:50 AM and 4: 30 PM. Actually get out of your car and watch traffic for 15 minutes or so. There really is no comparison between the two.

     
  • leechstomper posted at 7:41 am on Fri, Oct 5, 2012.

    leechstomper Posts: 1615

    It must be nice to look at traffic flow - and recently parking lots - from a subcompact point of view. Roundabouts are fine if designed large enough for their intended use. They are not fine if they are miniscule and trying to handle traffic on a truck route such as the current one on Boyer. I will say this positive about it - it is a dandy U-turn facilitator. It makes getting out of NAPA a lot easier - just turn right and make a few loop d'loops and off to Hwy 2 we go. That is, if it isn't rush hour and there isn't a truck or pedestrian or school bus or timid driver around.

     
  • Corey Greve posted at 8:30 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    A pedestrian causing traffic to stop in the current roundabout takes seconds to clear. SECONDS! You can't really believe that there are any traffic jams that result from any action in the roundabout. Methinks you are blowing this way out of proportion.

    Bringing traffic to a halt in all directions? Seriously? Are you sure we are talking about the same roundabout? The same town? The only time I can think of traffic being halted for blocks is when there is a wreck on the long bridge, or when cattle trucks are trying top negotiate the much-more-difficult-90-degree-turns that were once required of them.

    Leech, get real. The roundabouts work just fine. People, on the other hand....

     
  • leechstomper posted at 1:35 pm on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    leechstomper Posts: 1615

    The roundabout at Boyer and Larch may be okay for subcompacts. HOWEVER, let one full size pickup and one slow pedestrian enter the intersection at the same time and gridlock ensues. The pickup cannot stop without its rear end still in the circle bringing the house of cards down. During high volumn traffic times, timid drivers, who won't take their right of way, and drivers that think that their business is more important than everyone else's, diving in when there isn't room, bring the whole system to a halt for blocks in all directions.

    Roundaboutsare fine if they are platted in during an developement and are large enough for the intended traffic load. They are not okay if they are too small and wedged in as an afterthought in a constrained area. Read that as anything Sandpoint has done in the past and has announced that is being considered in the future.

     
  • posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Posts:

    The roundabout is fine it's the Sandpoint drivers that don't know how to use signal lights that need educating ,lets put SPD down there issuing some tickets.

     
  • Corey Greve posted at 8:52 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    Leech, you are correct, Boyer is a designated truck route. Eastbound Highway 2 traffic turns north on Boyer, and East on Larch to access the Highway again. The Curve project is specifically addressing that issue, and will eliminate Boyer as a truck route through town. North Boyer is and will be easily accessible by truck traffic from Larch, Baldy, and Schweitzer cutoff, even with roundabouts. They are not difficult for trucks to negotiate if they are properly designed.

    I am not convinced that the Boyer/Highway 2 intersection would be best served by a roundabout. there is just too much happening at that intersection and I feel it will be much too confusing.

    I agree, Sandpoint, and Bonner County, sit at a literal crossroads for industry that we should be exploiting for the benefit of our community. I also agree that our city leaders would rather have a quaint little town full of look-alike cottages and candle stores for wealthy tourists to enjoy than to have several industry business located here to employ a blue-collar workforce.

     
  • Corey Greve posted at 8:43 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    I guess you need to share your definition of roundabout. From what I can tell, that is exactly what it is.

    I drive, bike, or walk through the roundabout and the four way stop on Boyer nearly every day. Often several times a day. There is no comparison to the traffic pile up at the four way stop during peak traffic times. The only time the roundabout approaches that kind of pile up is just after a long train blockage, with traffic backed up from the STOPLIGHTS at Larch and 5th, or if someone can't figure out how to use the roundabout and continually stops to let people in.

    Do you recall what it was like before the roundabout? Traffic would snarl in all directions, mostly due to the Larch/5th traffic lights, or large trucks trying to negotiate the 90 degree turns that were not designed for that use. Trucks can negotiate the roundabout much more easily that they could before, since they now have WAY more room.

    In that location, for that amount of traffic flow, the roundabout is infinitely better than a four way stop. Yes, it is more expensive to build, but not more than a set of modern stop lights and their inherent, ongoing maintenance.

     
  • leechstomper posted at 8:08 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    leechstomper Posts: 1615

    All of you are missing the bigger underlying message here. Boyer is a truck route. I bet you dollars to doughnuts that the city downplayed that fact to the engineers. This administration and those for the past couple of decades are doing their level best to discourage industry in the area. They may pay lip service to it and say that they are "pro business" but they are lying. At every turn, they do things that choke out blue collar jobs and promote tourism. Don't get me wrong, I like to bind up my colon with cheese and get blind drunk on wine while absorbing culture at Memorial field as much as the next guy - but somebody has to pay the bills.
    Highway 2 is traffic is going to increase. As soon as the North/south freeway in Spokane is done, it will be the shortest route timewise to the airport and downtown core. Highways 2 and 200 are being groomed for heavy traffic to avoid Lookout and Fourth of July passes - hense all of the new broad bridges.

    Sandpoint has a unique location to capitalize on with industry and the city sits on its hands. Two railroads, one of which is a mainline east west route intersect with two interstate highways (one of which is international). We have an adequate supply of fairly inexpensive electrical power, sit on an international gas pipeline and have an abundance of natural resources to develope for profit. We are the Bastogne (transportation wise) of the region.

    What do we get out of the city? Choke off highways with Ovalabouts and block truck routes with miniscule roundabouts. What do we get out of the economic growth council? Schweitzer, Schweitzer, tourism, fiber optics, tourism, Schweitzer. Get a clue.

     
  • Here's What I Say posted at 6:34 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

    Here's What I Say Posts: 1240

    Corey, the roundabout at Larch and Boyer is hardly a roundabout. It's more like a squiggle than a true roundabout. Cars darting out in front of traffic when they should be yielding. Roundabouts have to count on the goodwill of drivers rather than true traffic control. Sometimes it's impossible to get into the squiggle because traffic is lined up on one street or the other and just keeps coming. There are traffic backups at the squiggle as much as the 4-way stop. It's no better than a four-way and much more expensive to build.

     
  • Corey Greve posted at 7:41 pm on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    If the planning were to wait until the funding were available, you folks would all be complaining that there was no prior planning and we need to wait until we know more about the project impact before we build anything.

    I think it is smart to start this process well in advance, to allow for all sides to input their perspective and to iron out any conflicts and issues well in advance.

    "Heres what I say", tell us again how poorly the roundabout works. Seriously, if you think that it doesn't work better than any other traffic device for that amount of traffic flow, I don't know how you could ever be satisfied.

    Luv, if you have had that many close calls in the roundabout, you might want to get introspective. They don't get much easier than the one we have. My only issue is that drivers can't seem to figure out how to signal their intent to exit, but that isn't much different than any other intersection in town.

     
  • Luv83864 posted at 7:07 pm on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    One route to the library needs established and kept up that is one of the only reasons I can come up with to fix any of the streets from Boyer to Division. It seems to me Larch street is much busier and has no side walks. I personally have seen one accident at Boyer and Cedar. Think the 4 way stop works well except in times where traffic is diverted like special events. I have certainly had more close calls at the roundabout then in all my life at 4 way stop. A lot of people just don't know how to use roundabout which in then endangers everyone. Again, point well taken why spend money on something that isn't being budgeted for. And Main Street from Boyer to Division is not downtown. Downtown ends close to Chevron in my perspective.

     
  • GrantAndre posted at 1:37 pm on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    GrantAndre Posts: 12

    I say a priority shared by 'most everyone' as a comparison to the comparatively narrow uses proposed for the LTO (Memorial Field, etc..). Maybe I'm assuming too much, but who in the surrounding area doesn't get into town on a somewhat regular basis (at least 3-4 times per year)?

    A more enjoyable, parking-friendly, improved downtown would be an improvement shared by all, I believe.

    Maybe your point (well taken) is that this isn't a *priority*. Very true. A nice-to-have, not a priority.

     
  • saglegramp posted at 10:07 am on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    saglegramp Posts: 3

    Based on how long it took to get the by-pass approved we (or maybe I should say you cause I mostly won't live that long) should expect to have it complete around 2050

     
  • Here's What I Say posted at 6:41 am on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    Here's What I Say Posts: 1240

    Main St. doesn't get lots of traffic to begin with but diverting traffic from a wide street which is able to handle two way traffic to smaller streets like Alder, Forest, etc. seems silly. Those smaller side streets aren't able to handle two-way traffic. Really, how many accidents have there been at the 4-way stop on Boyer and Cedar? Figures please. This city is roundabout crazy. Seems like school book planning rather than creating something workable for a small town that has high traffic at certain times of day and almost zero traffic the rest of it.
    All this busy work cost taxpayers money. Hiring consultants to plan something that isn't going to happen too soon is a waste of time and money. Somebody at City Hall doesn't have enough to do.

     
  • Corey Greve posted at 10:54 pm on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    If this place had eight months of snow and ice, there would be way fewer people here. In reality, it's three, maybe four months of real winter. Then it's either mud season or summer.

    One of the option proposed closes Main street to through traffic at Boyer. The other does not.

    Knee jerk reactions are a funny thing to watch.

     
  • wilson posted at 5:46 pm on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1184

    Main St from Boyer to Division is hardly in the "downtown core".

     
  • IdahoGal posted at 2:01 pm on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    IdahoGal Posts: 76

    I'm very curious as to why you would think improvements to the downtown core would be a priority shared by everyone......

     
  • GrantAndre posted at 12:55 pm on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    GrantAndre Posts: 12

    I know the Local Option Tax has been a bit of a sore point in the comments here and in discussions around town... but this seems like a *MUCH* better use of the proposed Local Option Tax funds than upgrades to Memorial Field or the Bay Trail.

    Heck, I'd vote yes on a full 1% Local Option Tax to see this plan funded! I really want to be able to ride my bike on a Bay Trail someday, but improvements to the downtown core are a priority shared by most everybody I should think!

    Who do we talk to next to get this funded?

     
  • Luv83864 posted at 11:49 am on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    Why spend time on agendas that aren't in the current budget? Maybe the money spent on Ruen Engineering would have been in the budget for things that are on the table now. The greenway plan sounds good of course but with that comes more maintenance. Who's responsibility will it be to upkeep the grass and landscaping? Without proper upkeep its pointless to spend a dime on it. Being that sidewalks are only walkable 7 months a year maximum the plan should also include ideas on upkeep and maintenance. Will the city council be making this decision? Or will there be a vote? What are the cost differences now and then in the future?

     
  • Here's What I Say posted at 10:50 am on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    Here's What I Say Posts: 1240

    Nothing new here. Roundabout, closing street to traffic. Guess you all will have to park on Boyer and walk through a magnificent greenbelt to get home. Green4 months a year, snow and ice the rest of the year. Be a good dog park for the rest of use.