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Alabama Street Corridor Multimodal Safety Improvements

Alabama Corridor Study map

The Phase 1 Feasibility Study for the Alabama Street Corridor Multimodal Safety Improvements, as recommended by the Pedestrian Master Plan, began in October 2012 and was completed by a multi-agency taskforce in April 2014. Alabama Street experiences too many vehicle collisions and is a barrier to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit users. A solution has been recommended through the Phase 1 Feasibility Analysis of Safety Improvements.

Project Overview: ES-466

July 2014 Update

On July 9, 2014 the Metropolitan Planning Organization/Regional Transportation Planning Organization (MPO/RTPO) Policy Board approved the proposed STIP amendments to the Alabama project. In mid-July 2014, WSDOT approved the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) amendments to the final scope of the Alabama Street Corridor Phase 2 Multimodal Safety Improvements. FHWA final approval is in process and the STIP amendment is expected to be fully complete before the end of August, allowing Bellingham to use 100% ($1,461,824) of the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, plus $1,075,000 in local funds to construct all of the improvements to the 1.75-mile corridor, including asphalt resurfacing, during the summer of 2015. Project Engineer Freeman Anthony is proceeding with preliminary engineering and design work.

June 2014 Update

The Bellingham City Council approved the defined scope of multimodal transportation improvements and directed Public Works to seek final approval from WSDOT to use 100% ($1,461,824) of the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, plus $1,075,000 in local funds to construct all of the improvements to the 1.75-mile corridor, including asphalt resurfacing, during the summer of 2015. Public Works staff is working with WCOG and WSDOT to amend the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which would allow Bellingham to access additional funding for preliminary engineering and design, as well as the $1,261,824 in construction funds. A final decision from WSDOT is expected by mid-July.

Alabama Safety Improvements June 2014 final scope submitted to WSDOT.

May 2014 Update

Public Works hosted a community meeting regarding the possible construction of a minimum standard (local access alleyway) “East North Street” between Queen Street and Undine Street as one method of mitigating access restrictions that would result for dead-end streets if raised c-curb median were to be installed on Alabama Street between Pacific Street and Undine, as recommended by Public Works. Raised c-curb median is a proven counter measure to reduce or eliminate 1.) side-impact collisions caused by vehicles turning left across moving traffic from the travel lane or from side streets and alleys, 2.) rear-end collisions caused by vehicles stopping in the travel way to make left turns, and 3.) side-swipe collisions caused by moving vehicles swerving to avoid vehicles stopped in the travel way to make left turns. These are the three most predominant collision types that have been experienced in the central portion of Alabama Street between James Street and Yew Street. At the end of May, Public Works received new collision data from WSDOT, which documents in addition to the 262 vehicle collisions from 2006-2011, there were 52 additional vehicle collisions on Alabama Street between Cornwall Avenue and St. Claire Street in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 and 2013, 13 collisions occurred between Cornwall and James, 24 collisions occurred between James and Woburn, and 15 occurred between Woburn and St. Claire. A Council work session to further discuss the safety improvements recommended for Alabama Street is scheduled for Monday, June 9, 2014.

April 2014 Update

Staff recommendations were presented to the City Council April 7.  Council held a work session on April 21 and directed staff to ask the Roosevelt Neighborhood their thoughts about building an E. North Street connector between Queen and Undine streets as a possible mitigation for the recommended c-curb. A Community Conversation is scheduled for May 14, 2014.

March 2014 Update

Open House #2 for the Alabama corridor held on March 5, 2014 at Roosevelt Elementary School. The multi-agency recommendation for safety improvements on the Alabama corridor were presented and then questions were answered by staff from all agencies at stations depicting various components of the project. All presentation materials, including a written summary of the recommendations and maps depicting the locations of all improvements were posted to the project web page. The Alabama corridor presentation was also made to the Bellingham Transportation Commission at their March 11, 2014 public meeting. After discussion and deliberation, the Bellingham Transportation Commission voted to approve Resolution 2014-02 in support of the multi-agency recommended safety improvements for the Alabama corridor. A public hearing is scheduled before the City Council on April 7, 2014.

February 2014 Update

Final Feasibility Study analysis work completed and multi-agency recommendation for safety improvements agreed upon. Open House #2 for the inter-related Bicycle Master Plan was held on February 20, 2014 at Whatcom Middle School. Public notices mailed to all neighborhoods and businesses for Open House # 2 for the Alabama corridor scheduled for March 5, 2014 at Roosevelt Elementary School. A public hearing is scheduled before the City Council on April 7, 2014.

January 2014 Update

Final Feasibility Study analysis work is being completed and Draft Report of Findings is underway. Public Works staff are now coordinating the second public meeting for the Alabama corridor, anticipated to occur in the first half March, with review by the Transportation Commission anticipated in March/April, and review by the Bellingham City Council anticipated in April.

December 2013 Update

Some additional analysis work was identified by the multi-agency working group and is currently underway with completion expected by the end of January. Public Works staff are now coordinating the second public meeting for the Alabama corridor to occur in late February or early March.

November 2013 Update

Multi-Agency Working Group met November 6, 2013 to discuss preliminary recommendations and will meet again on December 11, 2013 to develop final “Multi-Agency Working Group Recommendation.” Preliminary results of the technical analysis were presented to the Bellingham Transportation Commission on November 12. The Alternatives Analysis Report is currently being compiled and publication is expected by December 31, 2013.

October 2013 Update

The Phase 1 Technical Analysis has concluded and the Multi-Agency Working Group is scheduled to meet on November 6 to discuss analysis results and preliminary study recommendations. The complete results of the technical analysis will be compiled into an Alternatives Analysis Report by the end of 2013.

A second Open House with presentation to the public is envisioned for February 2014 , but is not yet scheduled. A public hearing before the Bellingham City Council is envisioned for March 2014, but is not yet scheduled.

September 2013 Update

The Phase 1 Technical Analysis is wrapping up in October 2013 and complete results will be compiled into a Technical Report by the end of 2013. A second Open House with presentation to the public is envisioned for January 2014, but is not yet scheduled. A public hearing before the Bellingham City Council is envisioned for March 2014, but is not yet scheduled.

June 2013 Update

Travel demand modeling and technical analysis is on-going with WCOG and Fehr & Peers consultants.

City Council Activity

Community Conversation

A Community Conversation was held to discuss neighborhood connectivity and safety on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at Roosevelt Elementary School, 2900 Yew Street.

Public comment tracker as of June 4, 2014 (PDF)

Open House Events

Two Open House events provided opportunities for the public and business owners to review project materials, ask questions, and provide input. To comment on the draft Recommendations, citizens completed and submitted a comment form. Public comments were accepted up to the April 7, 2014 public hearing at City Council.

Open House #2 March 5, 2014

Open House #1 February 12, 2013

Project History and Activities to Date

2012 Traffic Volume Data Collection

Videos of Existing Conditions at Alabama/James and Alabama/Woburn
Total traffic volumes on the corridor are highest at these two intersections, which are congested during peak hours. We recorded 14 hours of video from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM and captured still images every five minutes of all the approaches at these two key intersections. These images were combined with video during the morning peak , midday peak, and afternoon peak time periods. The videos depict that while there are periods of traffic congestion, especially during the afternoon peak hour, some of this traffic congestion is due to the substandard left-turn pocket and there are very few periods of “cycle failure” where motorists have to wait through multiple signal cycles on Alabama Street.

Similar WSDOT Safety Improvements on SR 539 "Guide Meridian" Street  in 2013

Examples and Information on "Road Diets"

More Information

Contact the Public Works Department Transportation Planner, Chris Comeau, ccomeau@cob.org or 778-7946

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