January 7, 2011
The City is considering a change to the operation of the intersection of 48 th St. and Washburn Ave. S.
In 2008, at the request of residents, the Citys traffic engineers reversed the orientation of the stop sign at 48 th and Washburn Ave. S. After the change was made, many residents contacted the City requesting that the change be rescinded. The City’s engineers have found that either orientation meets safety and operational standards.
Council Member Hodges has asked the Fulton Neighborhood Association to host a neighborhood discussion of the issue to allow all affected residents an opportunity to provide input before a decision is made.
Residents are invited to attend the monthly Fulton board meeting on February 9 th beginning at 7 pm. If you cannot attend the meeting but would like to provide input please contact Council Member Hodges office.
Map of the Area:
February 22, 2011
Thank you to all the folks who came out to the meeting on Feb. 9th! We had a great discussion and it was clear everyone is interested in making this intersection as safe as possible.
Below is a summary and discussion of some of the issues folks brought up at the meeting and in calls or emails to our office.
A number of people expressed an interest in installing four way stop at the intersection. The intersection does not meet State traffic standards for a four-way stop. In general, an intersection must have high traffic volume, a significant crash history, or some other unique quality that requires the additional right-of-way control. Data shows that installing a right-of-way device where it is not warranted results in high violation rates, creating, rather than solving, a safety problem.
There seems to be some confusion about the history of this intersection. The current orientation stopping east-west traffic on 47 th St. has been in place for many years. Traffic does not recommend stopping north-south traffic on Vincent at 47 th due to the potential for sliding through the stop in icy conditions.
Traffic engineers do not recommend placing stop signs at intersections at the bottom of significantly graded streets because of the potential danger to pedestrians and cross-traffic due to cars sliding through the stop during the winter.
We have received feedback from folks concerned about having a stop sign at the bottom of the grade on northbound Washburn at 48 th, and about having a stop both at the bottom and the top of the hill on southbound Vincent at 47 th. While our engineers do not recommend a stop sign at the bottom of the hill at Vincent and 47 th, they do not view the less significant grade on Washburn at 48 th as a safety issue.
Concerns have been raised that the current orientation stopping east-west traffic on 48 th St. at Washburn provide drivers an incentive to cut through from 49 th/Upton to 47 th/Xerxes because of the lack of stops.
School and student pedestrians:
Concerns have been raised about students from Lake Harriet crossing Washburn under the current orientation and about students crossing 48 th St. under the previous orientation.
One of the key concerns raised involved speeding in the area, including an emphasis on school buses. Stop signs are not used for traffic calming. Data shows that installation of a stop sign when not warranted in order to slow traffic has two major drawbacks: 1) ineffectiveness, as drivers tend to speed up quickly again after the sign, and 2) creation of a more dangerous situation because of higher violation rates. Some traffic calming options discussed at the meeting include the installation of speed bumps by residents, use of temporary speed wagons, targeted enforcement, and the use of "Slow Down" signs as seen in other neighborhoods. Folks also brought up the need to reach out to the school district to address the speeds of buses through the neighborhood.
While there was no overwhelming consensus on the orientation of the stop sign at 48 th/Washburn, a significant majority of the responses we received via phone, email, and in person indicated a preference for reverting to the original orientation – stopping traffic on Washburn. Because our traffic engineers have determined there is no significant difference between the two options, and because Council Member Hodges agrees that the most significant issue with respect to the orientation at this intersection is cut through traffic between Upton and Xerxes Aves., the City will reverse the stop signs permanently. The change will happen as soon as it is feasible given weather conditions.
The feedback we received clearly indicates a need for a change to the traffic situation in the area, particularly with regard to traffic calming. Council Member Hodges will work with staff to put up a speed wagon in the area and reach out to the school district on the issue of speeding buses. In addition, residents were encouraged to work with the neighborhood association on obtaining and distributing "Slow Down" yard signs.
Last updated Apr. 25, 2012