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.
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.