Funding problems slow Government Street plan plan, but there's still reason for excitement _lowres

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- Government Street traffic near Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church and school. A 'road diet' proposes changing the road to a three lane, with a center two-way left-turn lane, bike paths and sidewalks.

Editor’s note: Anastasia Semien, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation and Development, answered these questions about the agency’s traffic studies for the Government Street “road diet” project, which involves reducing the lanes from four to three, with the center lane reserved as a two-way left-turn lane.

QUESTION: Have DOTD traffic studies taken into consideration the traffic restrictions that will occur in the single lane each way when city buses stop for bus stops? With the current double lanes each way, vehicle traffic still has an open lane when city buses stop for bus stops.

ANSWER: There are currently 72 bus stops along Government Street. The proposed improvements include bike lanes and sidewalk improvements, including bringing the sidewalks into ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, which should make the corridor more walkable. Reducing the number of bus stops should improve operations inhibited by bus stops. The delays related to the buses should be minimal. The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) has said that if walkability and access to bus stops along the corridor is improved, it may reduce the number of bus stops.

QUESTION: Have DOTD traffic studies taken into consideration the fact that the Government Street railroad overpass is a four-lane roadway that is the route of choice for worker traffic flow in order to avoid railroad crossing blockages on Florida Boulevard?

ANSWER: Government Street currently has an at-grade railroad crossing, not a 4-lane overpass. Railroad crossing blockages on Florida are avoided by using the North Boulevard railroad overpass.

What about Highland Road?

QUESTION: Is there any discussion about adding sidewalks/bike lanes to Highland Road? Seems to me it would add measurably to the road’s property values, and increase its “small, rural’ appeal, rather than detract from it.

ANSWER: Ingolf A. Partenheimer, the city-parish chief traffic engineer, says: “Given the nature of the Highland Road with its significant number of large trees and their proximity to the roadway and limited right-of-way, it doesn’t look to be economically feasible.”

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