Savannah moves ahead on plans to make Price Street one lane with parking and a bike lane

The city of Savannah is moving ahead with the planned conversion of Price Street from two lanes one-way with no on-street parking to a new concept with one lane of traffic, on-street parking where conditions allow, and a bike lane.

Here’s the text of the email sent out today to those who have expressed interest in the project:

You are receiving this e-mail because of an expressed interest of a southbound bike lane on Price Street, with limited parking. The concept of converting Price Street from 2 lanes to 1 lane with an added bike lane and parking was approved by Council in 2010.

Since that time, staff has worked with residents, neighborhoods, institutions and others to inform, engage and obtain consensus on the concept and moving forward. Attached is a rendering that some of you may have seen during the “Concept Phase” discussions. Most of you have provided input on the concept, hence, your receipt of this e-mail.

Final engineering drawings are available for review and comment. Please plan to attend the “Open House” below; and share this information with those in your community, organization and/or association.

What: Price Street Bike Lane Project Open House

When: Tuesday, August 16, 2011
3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., drop-in

Where: Savannah Arts Academy, 500 Washington Ave.

If you are unable to attend the Open House and want to view the plans, please visit the City’s website – www.savannahga.gov – on Wednesday, August 17.

Thank you,

Heather Fish
Citizen Specialist

Here’s a graphic rendering of the future Price Street:

Let me begin by saying that I would prefer to see Price be converted back into a two-way street — it’s a subject I’ve written about often through the years.

But this is a credible plan, and it’s a great improvement over the status quo. I’m sure, however, that all sorts of objectors will come out of the woodwork despite the publicity this has received over the last couple of years. And their objections would be easy to dismiss, if they would only ask for legitimate answers instead of pontificating on issues they aren’t well informed about. Let’s hope city officials don’t back off because of irrational objections. There would only be one really great reason to back off and that would be to a) wait until the current City Council is gone, b) go back to Council with a two-way proposal, and c) include in the proposal a plan to make East Broad Street from Gwinnett to Victory two-way (it’s already two-way north of Gwinnett).

A few key points:

  • Right now there is a northbound bike lane on Lincoln, but there is no southbound bike lane.
  • Price Street’s traffic counts do not justify two lanes of one-way traffic. That is especially true from Bay Street to about Liberty Street.
  • The speedway effect created by the wide street and the absence of on-street parking (which would provide a sort of “visual friction”) leads to very high speeds on Price.
  • As a consequence of those high speeds, we routinely see auto accidents with serious injuries, major damage to cars, and disturbingly common crashes into houses.
  • The high speeds and the lack of a protective buffer of parking make Price Street one of the worst streets for pedestrians in the city.
  • Property values and land use have obviously been depressed by the current traffic flow.
  • When the change is first made, there might be some issues with getting lights retimed (one lane means fewer cars able to get through a single green light), but those can be worked out. Plus, some drivers will choose alternate routes once they realize that they are going to have to travel at legal speeds. Again, this would best be done in conjunction with making East Broad Street two-way for its entire length, but city officials who would like to do that backed off after irrational objections a number of years ago.
  • The additional on-street parking spaces will be GREAT news for residents along Price, for residents on side streets who are tired of Price Street residents and visitors parking in front of their houses, and for businesses like those in the plaza at the corner of Oglethorpe and Price.

I sincerely hope that those who have questions about the plan will ask them rather than launch into tirades about how none of this makes sense. It makes a lot of sense, and the quality of life improvements will add value to the street.

4 comments for “Savannah moves ahead on plans to make Price Street one lane with parking and a bike lane

  1. August 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Having lived in 2 locations off of Price street for about 7 years, and riding a bike as my primary means of transportation during that same time, I think this is a great move by the city for this street.

  2. BroadStResident
    August 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I see the point of turning Price Street into a tranquil, tree lined street like many streets in downtown.
    My problem starts with Mr. Dawers’ heralding the conversion of East Broad into a two way street and city officials pushing someone’s traffic problem onto another street with hopes that it will go away. The concern should be for those of us living and walking on East Broad. It is already a unregulated speedway from Gwinnett to Bay Street(often the worst offenders being CAT buses). There are several Churches, an elementary and middle school, the city’s only dog park, pedestrians, a county park and residents on East Broad Street. Not to mention the children at the Boys and Girls Club who frequently cross the street unsupervised. Now the suggestion of converting two way traffic on East Broad from Victory to Bay is catamount to breaking a levee and unleashing a torrent of speeding cars, truck and buses down a pedestrian busy street, many are whom under the age of 15. But like Mr. Dawers said, “all sorts of objectors will come out of the woodwork…their objections would be easy to dismiss, if they would only ask for legitimate answers instead of pontificating on issues they aren’t well informed about”.
    OK Mr. Dawers, let us ask the crossing guard at East Broad Elementary School, Ms. West. Daily, Ms. West says she has to dodge speeding cars to safely cross kindergardeners and first graders to East Broad Elementary. On occasion SCMPD will run a speed trap, but only after Ms. West calls multiple times. Or lets ask my neighbors who have lost pets on East Broad.
    I am in favor of slowing traffic in a densely populated city, don’t get me wrong. Sure Price Street will be safer, and Mayor Johnson will have a safer bike ride home. But at what cost? Four thousand more cars on East Broad daily…really? What next? “East Broad has room for four lanes, lets really get it going”. Once again the concerns from the people on the fringe of the historic district get swept under the rug. After all we don’t want property value to drop. And Mr. Dawers, the “disturbingly common crashes into houses” you mentioned like Chicken Little, have occurred at one intersection. In fact one house, at Price and Gordon, has been hit several times by drivers running a stop sign. The city recently installed a flashing yellow light.

    • bill dawers
      August 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Why all the anger?

      A few points:
      1. There have been plenty of crashes all over Price — I know of one lot at the corner of Anderson that has been plowed into twice that I can recall. Others too. It’s not a problem at one intersection. Your statement is factually incorrect.
      2. Price only gets something less than 6,000 cars/day (I’m guessing right now but I can check), so East Broad is unlikely to get more than a tiny percentage of additional cars — and that’s only if it’s made two-way for its entire length. Almost no one is going to move from Price to East Broad under the current configuration, because East Broad southbound ends at a stoplight at Gwinnett.
      3. If you think East Broad is currently a speedway north of Gwinnett, go take a look at the portions of it south of Gwinnett, which are two lanes one-way.
      4. I have literally never heard a complaint about traffic from anyone on East Broad. I fully believe you that it’s a problem, and it’s exactly the type of thing I would write about if it were presented to me in a convincing way.
      5. If it is such a problem on East Broad on the two-way portion from Gwinnett to Bay, then let’s think about ways to slow the traffic down. The light at Oglethorpe certainly slowed traffic down along that portion, and the light at President Street obviously dampens speeds to some degree. If the issue is primarily from Gwinnett to Liberty — a substantial stretch with essentially no stops and a very wide street (which always encourages higher speeds) — then we should be considering various changes to the street design that would help. Adding angled parking with bumpouts for pedestrians at crossings would be worth a look. (There’s a good pic from Newnan, Georgia here: http://www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/7444.) Perhaps we could even look at a planted median like on MLK (the old West Broad, which is probably similar in width).

  3. August 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I’m definitely a fan of #5 for the stretch of E. Broad between Gwinnett and Liberty. The street is entirely too wide there and I imagine that contributes to drivers feeling free to speed up.

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