The first phase of the College Hill for Everyone project is primarily a demonstration project. It’s being used to gather information and demonstrate the use of innovative techniques and materials to slow traffic on South Mendenhall Street and to improve pedestrian safety and quality of life in College Hill.
The changes that have been put in place are temporary. The information gathered during this test phase will help identify what kinds of changes will be effective at reducing motor vehicle speeds, reducing traffic noise and improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
After the testing phase, we’ll use what we’ve learned to develop long-term improvements. The timing of those improvements will be coordinated with upcoming water and sewer replacement and street resurfacing projects to limit the disruption and cost.
Vehicle speed and pedestrian safety
Mendenhall doesn’t look like a 25 mph street. It’s straight and wider than the nearby side streets. Most of its intersections lack crosswalks, and one side is clear of parked cars. It doesn’t give motorists obvious reasons to travel at or below the posted speed limit.
The combination of a high level of pedestrian traffic, lack of marked crosswalks, high rate of motor vehicles speeding and other factors create a dangerous situation.
Last year, traffic speed data were collected on the 500 block of Mendenhall, where the lane diverters are being tested. Only about 40% of motor vehicles were travelling at or below the posted speed limit. The maximum recorded speed was 54 mph.
Data collected after installation of the temporary treatments show that the changes to the design of the street are reducing traffic speeds significantly. Over 97% of vehicles are travelling at or below 25 mph. Only 0.1% of vehicles are traveling above 35 mph. The maximum recorded speed was 38 mph.