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  • By Lisa Brody

Eton Road redesign okayed to move forward

As part of the multi-modal transportation process of evaluating and redesigning streets in the city of Birmingham for all kinds of users, at their meeting on Monday, December 4, city commissioners approved the recommendations of the Birmingham multi-modal transportation board for S. Eton Road from Maple to Fourteen Mile roads for pedestrian, bicycle and parking improvements, as well as to seek federal government funding to implement it.

Birmingham City Engineer Paul O’Meara presented commissioners with a plan for the complete mile, which would begin with the intersection of Maple and Yosemite Boulevard. O’Meara said it was recommended to relocate the west curb for the entire block three feet closer to the center of the road, which would allow the west side of the sidewalk to be eight-feet-wide. An enhanced, larger sidewalk ramp would be installed at the southeast corner of Maple; and arrows in both directions of the existing travel lanes would be painted to direct traffic and cyclists.

At Yosemite and Villa, he said the board recommended relocating the curbs on both sides of the street to create a two-lane street for Eton with 15-foot travel lanes, a four-foot parkway between new eight-foot sidewalks and a new curb, and new trees. Parking would be removed from both sides of the street in that area.

Between Villa and Lincoln, parking would remain just on the east side of the street, with an eight-and-a-half foot wide bidirectional lane and buffer with raised and painted marker added to the east side of the street. He said curbed bump-outs at marked crosswalks on the east side of the streets would be added at the intersections of Eton and Villa, Hazel, Palmer Court, Bowers, Holland, Webster, Cole and Lincoln.

Green marked bicycle crossings would be installed on the western side on the intersections of Eton and Villa, Hazel, Bowers, Haynes, Holland, Webster, Cole and Lincoln.

South of Lincoln to Fourteen Mile Road, where it is primarily residential, eight-foot bidirectional bike lanes would be added on the west side of Eton, as well as an eight-foot wide on-street parking lane on the west side of the street to permit 24-hour parking. To slow traffic, a double yellow centerline would create two 10-foot wide travel lines for cars. Curb bump-outs and crosswalks would be installed at the intersections of Melton, Humphrey, Sheffied and Bradford, and green marked bicycle crossings would be installed at the intersections of Lincoln, Melton, Humphrey, Sheffield and Bradford.

“Not only do bump-outs narrow the streets, it slows the traffic down,” explained city planning director Jana Ecker.

“I know it’s a large undertaking. It’s about $1.6 million worth of work if all of it is undertaken,” O’Meara said.

He informed commissioners that a TAP (transportation alternatives program) grant, from the state and federal government, could be applied for in March. “We have been successful in applying for it at Oak and Woodward,” he said.

Overall, commissioners were supportive of the proposal, especially with the bike lanes.

“We should do this in stages,” commissioner Carroll DeWeese suggested.

“There have been a lot of questions about the crosswalks, slowing the traffic as the Rail District has grown,” said commissioner Mark Nickita. “While there are different ways to approach it, this does address a lot of the ones brought up in the last couple of years. Here, with bike lanes, I believe if if you build them, they will come. I’ve seen it in every city I’ve studied. I’m in favor of the general concept.”

Commissioners approved the plan in concept, 6-1, with commissioner Rackeline Hoff voting against.

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