Monday, October 10, 2011

Rural Highway Undermines Horizon West "Pedestrian Oriented" Policies

County Road 535--a four lane divided rural highway--severs the connection between thousands of homes and Sunset Park Elementary School.  Reduction of the posted speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph has had inadequate effect because the County engineered C.R. 535 for comfortable interstate highway speeds.  Nothing controls motorist speed more so than thoroughfare design. 

Horizon West architect Tory Parish has posted a report about the intersection of C.R. 535 and Overstreet, where numerous children cross to walk to school.  You can find a link to her report HERE

Crossing guard at C.R. 535 and Overstreet helping a bicyclist across eight lanes of traffic, including turn lanes, engineered to interstate highway specifications. 
We've lost the art of changing thoroughfare design based on the context.  The County should have designed C.R. 535 as a rural highway that changed into an urban boulevard or thoroughfare north of Reams Road.  Condominium and apartment residents will need to get into their cars to cross the street in order to shop and dine.  Reality on the ground is inconsistent with County policies to make Horizon West "pedestrian-oriented."

Long-term, in accordance with the County's road maintenance schedule, the County should look to reconstruct the quarter-mile of C.R. 535 north and south of the Overstreet intersection to make it safer for the kids who walk and bike to school.  Remove the massive shoulders.  Plant trees.  Narrow the lanes from 12 to 10 feet.  Install urban curbs.  An appropriate design goal would reduce the comfortable driving speed in this segment to 35 mph.  You'll find more thoughts in Tory Parish's report.