Update #4 (4/28/2022): Project and Schedule Updates
In early 2022, the Mayor’s office received outreach from several residents with both support for and concerns about the plans for the W. Franklin rehabilitation project. After thorough review and consultation, the City has elected to move forward with roadway construction this Spring. Letters from Councilmember Jenny Spencer (Ward 15) and Interim Director Jamie DeRosa further describe these discussions.
In addition, project details are available now that design is complete:
- Street tree impact: The project team has worked to minimize street tree loss as a result of the roadway project. After review by Urban Forestry, four trees along the corridor are slated for removal:
- At W. 38th Street, one tree on the northeast corner along Franklin Blvd.
- At W. 48th Street, one tree on the southeast corner along W. 48th St.
- At W. 54th Street, one tree on the southeast corner along W. 54th St.
- At W. 54th Street, one tree on the southeast corner along Franklin.
- On-street parking impact:
- A total of 41 on-street parking spaces along W. Franklin Blvd. and 56 on-street parking spaces on side streets throughout the corridor will be removed to safely accommodate the traversable mini-roundabouts at intersections. A block-by-block tabulation of these parking space locations is available as a table and a graphic.
- Public Safety and Maintenance Insights:
- Since the last public meeting the project was reviewed by Public Safety and Streets staff to identify any concerns. Key insights include:
- The center islands and splitter islands of each mini-roundabout will be constructed with concrete bases 12” thick below street level for durability and to support the weight of heavy vehicles. The design team is investigating an enhanced concrete mix or epoxy treatment to further strengthen the installations.
- Large public safety and service vehicle operators must be able to use the entire intersection to make turns. Drivers will receive education about navigating the traversable mini-roundabouts as part of the project.
- Traffic calming is expected to alleviate the need for speeding enforcement along the street, allowing police personnel to serve in other capacities.
- Since the last public meeting the project was reviewed by Public Safety and Streets staff to identify any concerns. Key insights include:
- Center island and splitter island aesthetics:
- At intersections with traversable mini-roundabouts, the raised center islands and raised splitter islands along W Franklin are planned to be installed with a red brick stamped concrete pattern, which matches the decorative crosswalks along Detroit Rd. a block to the north.
- Project Schedule:
- Construction is anticipated to begin in May, 2022 and extend through August, 2023. Pre-construction information such as project phasing will be available in May, 2022.
The City will post additional project and construction updates after a contractor is identified. Please share your contact information using the form on the home page to receive direct notification when this information is available.
Update #3 (8/17/2021): Additional Project Updates
Since the public information session on July 29, the following additional updates have been made to the project:
- Additional crosswalks have been added across Franklin at W. 44th Street and West 32nd Street, so that both legs of Franklin Boulevard at these intersections have marked crosswalks
- The traffic signal at W. 44th Street will be retained, rather than replaced as initially proposed.
For other project refinements since the initial date posting, including curb realignments, curb bumpouts with delineators, and mini-roundabout design enhancements, please see Update #1 and Update #2 below.
Update #2 (7/30/2021): Franklin Boulevard Rehabilitation – Public Information Update Meeting
Thank you for your project feedback! We received numerous and thoughtful comments, and as a result we have made several updates to the design. We are also providing additional context for how decisions are made as the project moves forward from the conceptual design in the Franklin Traffic Calming Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI) Study published in 2019. The narrative below seeks to address this while responding to the most frequent public comments. In addition, the City hosted a special Information Session on July 29, 2021, to share this project update in-person and answer community questions. The presentation from this meeting is included below.
Update #1 (7/26/2021): Updates From Feedback
Project Update Summary
Since the initial project designs were posted online for public feedback, the project team has made the following updates to enhance the traffic calming impact and address comments:
- Mini-roundabout design enhancements, including steeper curbs around the center island, raised splitter islands on the Franklin approaches, visibility enhancements, Fast Path modeling, and a peer review of intersection design to enhance driver compliance and slow speeds (see the Mini-Roundabout Design Details section below for an in-depth explanation);
- Curb reconfiguration (where possible based on tree root and drainage impacts) to slow turning vehicles where crosswalks are present; and
- Addition of flexible delineators at crosswalk locations and lane shifts where curb reconfiguration is not feasible.
Revised Project Timeline
In addition to the website updates, the upcoming public information session, and conversations with stakeholders, the project team is currently working on the detailed design for intersections where a mini-roundabout is proposed to maximize the traffic calming impact in each location, minimize the loss of on-street parking, and avoid impacts to the tree canopy along the corridor.
We will provide updates through additional website posts and community announcements when further information is available.
The updated project timeline is:
- Detailed design (Stage 3) completed by the end of August, 2021
- City/NOACA/ODOT review completed by the end of September, 2021
- Final plans competed by the end of October, 2021
- City/NOACA/ODOT review and approval by the end of November, 2021
- Project posted for construction bids and award (“project sale”) in March, 2022
- Construction Spring through Fall 2022
Following the Franklin Traffic Calming Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI) plan (www.noaca.org/franklin), the West Franklin Boulevard Rehabilitation Project seeks to slow down traffic, increase comfort and safety for people walking and biking, and improve the pavement condition along the corridor. As proposed, the project will include the following key safety and traffic calming improvements:
- Reconfiguration of the W. 85th Street intersection and bridge wall to slow traffic turning onto Franklin and provide ADA-accessible pedestrian access across Franklin and W. 85th Street.
- Addition of 10 high-visibility crosswalks at key points along the corridor (W. 85th—2, W. 81st, W. 77th, W. 69th, W. 57th, W. 44th, W. 32nd, W. 29th, Lutheran Hospital).
- Adjustment of the curb radius at 4 intersections to slow turning vehicles and shorten pedestrian crossing distances (W. 85th, W. 57th, W. 44th, W. 29th).
- Addition of vertical delineators at 6 locations to reinforce no-parking areas next to crosswalks and ensure driver compliance at the W. 80th lane shift (W. 81st-W. 80th, W. 69th, W. 57th, W. 44th, W. 32nd, W. 29th).
- Installation of mini-roundabouts and high visibility crosswalks at 6 currently signalized intersections (W. 74th, W. 58th, W. 54th, W. 48th, W. 45th, W. 38th) and 1 unsignalized intersection (W. 50th) to slow all vehicles and enhance pedestrian safety. See the Mini-Roundabout Design Details section below for further explanation.
- Addition of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at the W. 69th and W. 57th school crossings, and at W. 44th and W. 32nd where traffic signals will be removed. (The flashing pedestrian beacon at Lutheran Hospital will be maintained.)
Please refer to the annotated corridor maps link below for more information.
The NOACA TLCI recommendations included removal of existing traffic signals, new neighborhood traffic circles, new curb extensions, and new and enhanced pedestrian crossings, based on measures offered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in their Traffic Calming ePrimer. These recommendations were offered at a conceptual level, which is the first step in the project design process. The conceptual plan is refined as the project moves forward through the design process and is followed by preliminary design (sometimes called Stage 2), detailed design (Stage 3), and bid documents (Plans, Specifications & Estimates; or PS&E). At each step, the feasibility, constraints, and project impacts are refined and clarified, and the project evolves accordingly. Specifically, Stages 2 & 3 consider geometric constraints related to turning movements of large vehicles; something that is not typically possible in a conceptual plan without exact intersection measurements.
The preliminary design for Franklin Boulevard was presented on this project website in April, 2021 and included all the recommended traffic-calming measures that conform to city policies, designed to current engineering standards. The preliminary design draws on the following additional information gathered by the design team:
- Topographic surveys to locate existing features such as curbs, curb ramps, drives, trees, poles, catch basins, utility castings and elevations so they can be shown accurately on the project base maps and inform the location of proposed features.
- Conformance of proposed measures to city policies.
- Impact of physical constraints at proposed locations such as underground utilities, catch basins and trees.
- Adherence to engineering standards. The City’s standards for road construction are in accordance with the Location & Design Manual of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The comments received on the preliminary design have helped define the detailed design, which is currently under preparation. The bid documents are scheduled to be delivered to ODOT later this fall to meet the procurement deadlines for federal and state funding.
Each of the proposed treatments has a safety benefit and calming function at the location where it is proposed. Although each treatment stands on its own as an effective traffic calming measure, their distribution along the corridor will also create a cumulative impact of calmer traffic along the street.
Speed Limit Reduction
The City will continue to explore and advocate for methods to reduce the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph in conjunction with this project on Franklin Boulevard. ODOT sets all speed limits in Ohio, per the Ohio Revised Code. The City has already engaged ODOT and the City’s Law department regarding Franklin, and is working with ODOT to meet their requirements that would allow lowering the speed limit. In the last year, ODOT has convened a statewide committee to update the speed zoning process, which is the process by which speed limit reductions are approved. The committee is in the process of adopting policy changes which should help make Franklin eligible for speed limit reduction, including:
- Vulnerable road users (such as bikes and pedestrians) will now have a quantitative impact on the calculated speeds.
- The 50th percentile speeds can be used in lieu of the 85th speeds when there is a high presence of vulnerable road users and the study is inside an urban area.
- The speed limit recommendation from the FHWA USLIMITS2 product is required as a check for every speed study in Ohio.
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.
Mini-Roundabout Design Details
Mini-roundabouts fit within an existing intersection where they slow traffic by forcing a turning movement around a central circle. They are very similar in function to the neighborhood traffic circles described in the Franklin Traffic Calming TLCI, but meet engineering standards that allow them to replace traffic signals and safely accommodate larger vehicles (see FHWA discussion).
Benefits of mini-roundabouts include:
- Enhanced safety for all road users by reducing the number of potential conflict points where crashes could occur. A typical four-legged intersection has 32 vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points and 24 vehicle-to-pedestrian conflict points. By comparison, a four-legged roundabout has only eight vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points and eight vehicle-to-pedestrian conflict points. This is an approximate 70 percent reduction in conflict points. In addition, since all vehicles are traveling in the same direction and at a lower speed in a roundabout, crashes are generally rear end or sideswipe in nature. Left-hand, right-angle (T-bone) and head-on crashes are virtually eliminated by a roundabout. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that roundabouts provide a 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes; 76 percent reduction in injury crashes; 30 to 40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes; and 10 percent reduction in bicycle crashes
- Physical features that force drivers to slow down to either navigate the circle (called horizontal deflection) or, in the case of larger vehicles, carefully mount the vertical features (vertical deflection) to move through the intersection, regardless of the posted speed limit.
- Placement of crosswalks that maximizes pedestrian visibility and safety.
- Improved air quality by eliminating vehicle idling at traffic signals and stop signs.
Key elements of mini-roundabouts include (see Figure 1 below, developed by the Federal Highway Administration, FHWA):
- Center island—the circle or oval in the middle of the intersection
- Splitter islands—the median area leading up to the mini-roundabout from each direction
- High visibility crosswalks
Franklin mini-roundabout design elements:
- Center island—Because of the small geometry of the intersections along Franklin and the need to accommodate larger left-turning vehicles, such as school buses and emergency and service vehicles, the central circle is designed to be “traversable,” meaning it is high enough above the surrounding pavement to create an uncomfortable bump for vehicles traversing it, but large vehicles can still turn by slowing down and carefully mounting the island curb. This need means that it is not possible to incorporate landscaping or additional raised elements into the center island design. As an example, Figure 1 shows how a school bus or similar vehicle needs to travel over the middle of the center island to make a left turn.
- To ensure that the mini-roundabouts will be effective as traffic calming features even though they are technically traversable, the design team recommends the following enhancements to the plans for Franklin Blvd.
- Raised, rather than painted, splitter islands will be installed on the Franklin Blvd approaches to each intersection. These raised islands will slow traffic as it approaches the intersection by creating a 10’ entry lane to the roundabout, provide additional pedestrian comfort at crosswalks, and physically reinforce the horizontal deflection around the circle.
- The mountable curb height for the raised splitter islands and center islands has increased from the 2”-3” initially considered to a 4” rise. Any vehicles choosing a straight path through the intersection or turning left across the mini-roundabout will encounter these curbs, physically reinforcing the vertical deflection through the circle.
- To ensure visibility at night, raised reflective markings will be placed around the raised center island and are being considered for the splitter island approaches.
- Because some side streets meet Franklin at a skewed angle, each mini-roundabout will be tailored to the specifics of its location. This means that some mini-roundabouts will be more oval than circular to create a consistent and tight travel lane width around the mini-roundabout. The designer is using a FASTPath analysis software to test the designs. Target speeds at each mini-roundabout vary depending on the geometric conditions, but are in the range of 10-20 mph.
- The design is being reviewed and optimized for traffic calming impact by national roundabout and traffic calming expert MTJ Consulting.
- The Franklin mini-roundabouts will enhance bicyclist and pedestrian comfort and safety through the intersections by:
- Slowing all traffic moving through the intersections to 10-15 miles per hour. Bicyclists will share the lane through the mini-roundabouts as they do along the rest of Franklin.
- Placing high visibility pedestrian crosswalks and signage ~1 car length (or 20 feet) back from the mini-roundabout entrances/exits so that drivers encounter the crosswalks at a right angle and are focused on pedestrian crossings rather than roundabout navigation. This eliminates right turns into pedestrians who have the right-of-way that often occurs at signalized intersections.
- Increasing driver attentiveness when navigating the intersection. Unlike a green traffic light, drivers will be required to limit distractions and focus on the roadway to navigate each intersection.
- To complement the historic aesthetic of the surrounding neighborhood and increase the visual contrast with the road, the mini-roundabout islands will be filled with colored, stamped concrete. The City will solicit input from the public on desired color and stamping pattern as the project progresses.
Mini-Roundabout access by school buses, emergency, and service vehicles:
The mini-roundabout center island will be plowed in the winter to be utilized by school buses and larger vehicles. The middle circle is wide enough to accommodate the plow blade. Drivers of snow plows, school buses, emergency vehicles, and other local service vehicles will be instructed on how to safely navigate the new intersections, and educational information will also be shared with residents and area employees through community channels.
Tree and Canopy Vegetation Impacts
1. How will this project impact the tree canopy? Most of the work for this project will occur within the existing pavement, between the curb lines. The only locations where work will be performed within the tree lawn is to install new curb ramps, curb extensions, or to replace existing deficient curb ramps. New curb ramp locations will be selected to avoid healthy trees, and the contractor will be instructed to protect existing trees. The City’s Urban Forester has been consulted and their recommendations will be followed to minimize impact on existing trees. At this time, we do not anticipate any loss of trees along the corridor associated with this project. When the detailed design (Stage 3) is complete, we will provide an update if this changes.
2. What is the impact of the RRFB installations on the landscaping? The RRFB installation will have limited impact on landscaping. The location of the RRFBs and ADA curb ramps have been carefully evaluated to avoid conflict with the trees.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Elements
3. Why aren’t raised crosswalks included in the project plans like the TLCI plan recommended? 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.
4. 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.
5. How are crosswalks being designed to ensure pedestrian safety? All of the enhanced crosswalk locations proposed in the Franklin Traffic Calming TLCI will receive high-visibility markings, signage, and curb extensions or delineators where possible. In the detailed design, an additional enhanced crosswalk will be provided near West 80th Street based on public request. Single crosswalks instead of double are proposed at West 44th, West 32nd and West 29th to prioritize pedestrian movements and to match the locations of proposed RRFBs.
6. Can RRFB’s be installed at all crosswalks that are not part of the mini roundabout? RRFBs will be installed at West 69th and West 57th Streets because they are school crossings and at West 44th and West 32nd to replace the removed traffic signals.
7. Are there examples of RRFBs being used in residential neighborhoods with success? The city has used RRFBs in residential neighborhoods at several school crossings with higher car traffic than what would be expected on a typical residential street. Examples include Halle School, Fullerton School, Harvey Rice School, and Alfred Benesch School.
8. The intersection of West 38th is being used by children going to Near West Intergenerational School. How will the children know to get drivers going around the roundabout to stop for them, and how will drivers know to yield to pedestrians? The crosswalk locations at each mini-roundabouts are selected to maximize drivers yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk, and to provide visibility for pedestrians crossing the street. (See the Mini-Roundabout Design Details section for more information.) Additionally, for the W. 38th Street intersection, the City will establish a school zone with flashing beacons both along Franklin and W. 38th Street as an additional signal to motorists. Other pedestrian safety measures for this location are also being considered during the detailed design, given its importance as a school crossing.
9. How and where are curb extensions being incorporated? Curb extensions enhance pedestrian safety by calming traffic and shortening crossing distance, but can impact existing underground utilities, street drainage patterns, and adjoining mature trees. The design team has evaluated the locations of the curb extensions proposed in the Franklin Traffic Calming TLCI, and is able to incorporate them in the following locations:
- The project will include physical curb extensions/relocation at West 85th, West 57th, West 44th and West 29th
- The project will delineate the remaining curb extension locations with flexible delineators.
Additionally, curb extensions on Franklin on either side of W. 65th Street are currently being installed as part of the W. 65th Street Rehabilitation project due to recommendations in the Franklin Traffic Calming TLCI plan.
10. Can separated biked lanes be considered for West Franklin by removing on street parking? Bike lanes were not recommended in the Franklin Traffic Calming TLCI and are not being considered for this project. The project implements traffic calming measures to slow down traffic and enhance bicyclist safety, and the removal of on-street parking beyond what is required for the mini-roundabouts has not been part of the public discussion.
Mini – Roundabout Details
11. Will signs and posts be installed at the mini-roundabout locations for low light visibility? Raised, reflective pavement markings will be installed around the edge of the center islands and along the approaches of the splitter islands to maximize visibility. Additional vertical elements in the mini-roundabout splitter islands and/or central islands, such as flexible delineators, are being investigated and are dependent on turning movement paths for large vehicles and maintenance considerations.
12. Will there be signage at the mini-roundabout intersections indicating that cars must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks? Pedestrian crossing signs will be installed at all crosswalk locations, including the mini roundabout intersections alerting drivers to slow down.
13. Is there enough truck traffic to warrant the need for roundabouts to be traversable? The need for the central circle to be traversable does not depend on truck traffic volume. It is needed to allow the large vehicles that regularly service the neighborhood, such as school buses, delivery trucks, ambulances, fire trucks, and waste disposal vehicles, to safely make left turns.
14. How will the traffic slow by replacing traffic lights with mini-roundabouts? The mini-roundabouts are traffic calming measures and are designed to slow the traffic making it safe for drivers, bicycles and pedestrians. The mini-roundabouts have been designed with geometric features that slow all vehicles down, regardless of the posted speed limits on the roadway. Entering traffic is slowed down and deflected to the right into an appropriate curved path along the circulating roadway and around the central island.
15. Can the mini-roundabout at West 50th Street be removed and add as needed traffic calming measures? The mini-roundabout at West 50th Street was specifically recommended in the TLCI plan due to the crash history at the Franklin & W. 50th intersection. The mini-roundabout will improve sight lines for traffic crossing Franklin and will prevent crashes when drivers on W. 50th are attempting to cross Franklin. It will also slow traffic on W. 50th as vehicles enter and exit the intersection. The mini-roundabout will result in additional pedestrian connectivity at this intersection, with the addition of two high visibility crosswalks across Franklin.
16. Do these roundabouts make it safer for ambulances and stopping traffic? Do the traversable roundabouts make their travel easy? The ambulances will encounter less conflict points at the mini-roundabouts, making it easier to find a safe, clear path around other vehicles. The traversable nature of the mini-roundabout centers allows ambulances to mount them if needed.
Signal Removal at W. 32nd and W. 44th
17. Would more control be warranted at the busy intersection of West 44th St.? A curb extension will be added on West 44th to slow down turning vehicles, and the new enhanced single crosswalk will be supplemented with RRFBs.
18. Is the intersection of West 32nd Street proposed to be a four way stop? After signal removal, the intersection will operate with stops on the side streets, and RRFBs at the new enhanced single crosswalk on Franklin. Vertical delineators will be added to enhance pedestrian safety next to on-street parking.
19. Will on street parking be allowed during construction? On street parking will not be allowed during construction, when contractor crews are in an active work zone. The city will work with the contractor to accommodate on-street parking when the work zone is not being used.
20. How will we know if the project is successful at calming traffic? The City has collected data pre-construction, and will compare it to data collected after construction. This data will help evaluate:
- Impact on maximum travel speeds through previously signalized intersections
- Overall impact on vehicular speeds along the corridor
21. Why does the website refer to the street as West Franklin Boulevard? West Franklin Boulevard is the official name of the street, as recorded in city plats and historic documents. The “west” connotation differentiates from the Franklin Boulevard between West 25th Street and Columbus Road.
22. How will this project impact city tax for residents? The cost of this project is covered by funding allocated for this specific purpose and has no impact on the current city tax.
23. Has there been any discussion with the community centers (St. Paul’s Community Church, near West Intergenerational Elementary School) of what they think about the design? We received feedback from both of them and incorporated their comments in the City responses.
Individual Comments and Responses (PDF)