City Moving Ahead with Railroad Avenue Road Diet Expansion

After months of consideration and review, the Shelton City Commission authorized the Public Works Department to move forward with proposals to expand the Road Diet on Railroad Avenue from 1st Street to 7th Street. Public Works Director, Craig Gregory has made several presentations to the Commission this year outlining suggested improvements to the current configuration of Railroad Avenue. City Staff also collected extensive feedback from members of the community regarding the approved changes prior to making a final recommendation to the Commission. The upcoming improvements are directly reflective of the Downtown Vision Plan established by the community-led Downtown Visioning Committee, the results of the Railroad Avenue Road Diet Community Survey conducted earlier this month, and a comprehensive traffic analysis conducted by the City’s engineering team.

The goal of the Road Diet on Railroad Avenue is to enhance the walkability and economic development potential for existing and future businesses in the downtown core. The upcoming improvements will help to accomplish this goal by making Railroad Avenue a more pedestrian friendly thoroughfare, and better accommodating existing vehicle traffic.

Public Works crews plan to begin on the project as early as mid-May. In consideration of the upcoming Forrest Festival events on Railroad Avenue in early June, it is anticipated that all improvements on Railroad Avenue will be completed by May 31st.

Approval of expanding the Railroad Avenue Road Diet came Monday after extensive discussion. The Commissioners decided to add the colored crosswalks to the side streets along Railroad for an additional $7,000 to $8,000.

The vote on the expansion was 2 to 1 with Mayor Gary Cronce voting against. The Mayor is not against the expansion. He wanted to wait on painting the crosswalks on the side streets until next year to save the City money.

Railroad Avenue Road Diet Improvements Include:

Two-lane road design

The existing two-lane road design from 3rd Street to 5th Street will be expanded from 1st Street to 7th Street. This will allow for the addition of center turn pockets at each intersection, and a 5.5’ buffer lane between the road and parallel parking spaces. The turn pockets will make turning into oncoming traffic much safer for vehicles traveling in both directions as well as pedestrians attempting to cross the intersection. The 5.5’ buffer lane will increase safety for vehicles utilizing parallel parking spaces, and existing bike traffic. The addition of turn pockets at each intersection was supported by approximately 54% of those that completed the Railroad Avenue Road Diet Community Survey. The 5.5’ buffer lane was supported by approximately 45% of participants, compared to the roughly 31% who opposed this change.

Expansion of painted crosswalks

Currently, the crosswalks on Railroad Avenue from 3rd Street to 5th Street are painted with red non-slip roadway paint. The approved Road Diet expansion includes painting each cross walk from 1st Street to 7th Street in similar fashion. This will also include the crosswalks on all corresponding cross streets. The clear designation of crosswalks throughout Railroad Avenue will help pedestrians move safely, conveniently, and predictably across the roadway. Increasing the number of crosswalk designations was supported in the Community Survey by approximately 72% of respondents.

Elimination of the traffic signal at the intersection of 4th Street and Railroad Avenue

The Public Works Department has conducted extensive testing at the intersection of 4th and Railroad to determine the necessity of the aging traffic signal. Based on the comprehensive traffic analysis issued by the City’s contracted Traffic Engineer, it was determined that the traffic signal is unwarranted. This recommendation is supported by multiple traffic volume counts, pedestrian counts, and accident histories. In consideration of the comprehensive traffic analysis, and the costs associated with maintaining the failing traffic signal, the City Commission authorized its removal as part of the current Road Diet expansion.

Elimination of back-in angle parking/Addition of parallel parking positioned against the curb

Several aspects of the Road Diet have previously been implemented along Railroad Avenue from 3rd Street to 5th Street, including the current back-in angle parking stalls on the north side of the road. Due to overwhelming unpopularity and underutilization, all back-in angle parking along Railroad Avenue will be replaced with parallel parking spaces. Approximately 70% of survey respondents dislike the existing back-in angle parking stalls.

Additionally, parallel parking throughout Railroad Avenue will be positioned back against the curb and the existing 3’ buffer between the sidewalk and parking spaces will be removed. Positioning parallel parking spaces back against the curb will increase visibility and safety for pedestrians and motorists attempting to cross Railroad Avenue. Over 68% of those that completed the Community Survey support this revision to the Road Diet.

Elimination of painted curb extensions

The existing painted curb extensions were implemented between 3rd Street and 5th Street to accommodate visibility issues as a result of the 3’ buffer between the sidewalk and parallel parking spaces. In consideration of the approved revisions to the Road Diet, specifically positioning parallel parking back against the curb and adding a 5.5’ buffer lane between the roadway and parking spaces, the painted curb extensions will no longer be necessary. The upcoming safety improvements will make it easier for pedestrians and motorists alike to see oncoming traffic from both directions without the aid of the additional staging area. Approximately 41% of survey respondents support this revision, compared to the roughly 31% that favor the existing painted curb extensions.