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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Better John Ireland Boulevard

What a difference a couple of months can make.  Residents and commuters who drove, biked and walked along the stretch of John Ireland Boulevard between Kellogg Boulevard and Summit Avenue at the start of the summer can now look forward to a street that is safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Saint Paul Public Works designed and oversaw construction of the plan that, among other improvements, removed a vehicle lane in both directions and substituted bicycle lanes in their place. Studies of the traffic volumes along this portion of John Ireland showed that vehicle counts were too low to retain two lanes in both directions.

City Sustainable Transportation Engineer/Planner Reuben Collins noted that extending the Summit bicycle lanes all the way to Kellogg makes a lot of sense because it addresses a “gap in our bicycle network.” Hundreds of bicycle commuters use this route each day to reach downtown and the Capitol area. By extending the bike lanes to Kellogg, bicycle travel will be made safer.

Motorists will like the new turning lanes installed at the intersections of Kellogg, Marshall Avenue and Dayton Avenue. Turning lanes help to reduce bottlenecks and improve safety by shifting turning vehicles out of the path of travel of thru vehicles, an important consideration during rush hour periods.

Pedestrians will benefit from the improvements that include tightened radii at the crosswalks that will shorten the crossing distance. The new crosswalks are also now ADA compliant replete with audible pedestrian signals and truncated domes.

Civil engineer David Kuebler, who was intimately involved with the project commented, “the implementation of the John Ireland project is the culmination of a lot of work by the City to improve the safety and livability of the Boulevard for all users.

“What started out a number of years ago as a much simpler project to complete a gap in the bikeway network, a gap made more evident when the bike lanes were installed on John Ireland north of Kellogg, evolved into a more complex project by taking a more holistic approach to the corridor.  The benefits resulting from the project are truly in keeping with the City’s mission and transcend City boundaries.”

Kuebler credited Public Works project design engineer Bill Vos as one of those who merit accolades for a design will that live on in other projects as the city expands its network of “complete streets.” As the title to this post alludes, we now have a better John Ireland - for all users.

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