Approved plan will make way for bikes

Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 11:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 11:51 p.m.

The planned resurfacing of Northwest 16th/23rd Avenue took another turn Tuesday as county commissioners approved a new working design plan that makes room for a paved shoulder for bicycle traffic with more narrow travel lanes instead of more narrow median openings.

These latest changes will now be incorporated into the next phase of design, which will be the 30 percent complete plans.

It's been more than a year since the first public meeting on the planned resurfacing of the approximately four-mile stretch of Northwest 16th Avenue/Boulevard/Northwest 23rd Avenue from Northwest 13th Street and Northwest 57th Terrace, where traffic counts range from 22,100 to 23,500 vehicles a day.

There's been sometimes heated public debate over the roadway's configuration, including whether or not there should be a paved lane for bicycles.

Here is a summary of the current design plan, which may still see changes:

Eastbound and westbound from Northwest 13th Street to Northwest 43rd Street: a 10-foot-wide inside lane and 11-foot-wide outside lane. By comparison, the travel lanes are currently 12 feet wide, while a prior design plan for the resurfacing had 11-foot-wide travel lanes.

A paved three-foot shoulder for bicycles: one foot too narrow to be an official “bicycle lane”

Maintaining the current median opening width of 19.5 feet instead of a previously proposed decrease to 16.5 feet.

Permanent closure of the medians closest to the busy intersections at Northwest 13th Street and Northwest 43rd Street. East of Northwest 43rd, the median opening in front of Marketplace Shopping Center, anchored by Fresh Market, and the Millhopper Shopping Center, which has a Publix, would be modified to allow left turns into the shopping centers. For westbound traffic there, Millhopper Shopping Center and Millhopper Square would share a new entrance.

Widen and reconstruct the sidewalk as a 10-foot-wide multi-use path along the roadway.

On Tuesday, commissioners Lee Pinkoson and Susan Baird voted against the proposal for more narrow travel lanes. Baird also voted against closing off the medians near Northwest 13th and Northwest 43rd streets, saying it “irks you” when you cannot get in and out of a shopping center because a median is closed.

She also pushed to cap spending on the reconstruction of the sidewalk at no more than $1.2 million, to put money toward future projects.

During public comment, resident Cindy Smith said the county should not cut costs while working to “restore” infrastructure that has gone years without repair and needs to last decades.

County Commissioner Mike Byerly said the county was “not designing for the last 50 years but the next 50 years” and the corridor had to be a “multi-modal facility,” accommodating not only automobiles but buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

The base construction cost estimate for the roadway is $5.4 million and the paved shoulder and sidewalk reconstruction could push that upwards to $6.5 million.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or

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