Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons: How to Use Them

Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs) are pedestrian crossing signal devices that have recently been cropping up around Monroe County, most notably where the B-Line Trail ends at Country Club Road, where the Karst Farm Greenway crosses Vernal Pike, and most recently on State Road 46 North, near University Elementary School. Also sometimes called HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) signals, these devices have been, in the words of the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), “have been shown to significantly reduce pedestrian crashes.”

However, the FHA also notes that because they are not widely used in many areas, any usage should also be accompanied by an education and outreach campaign. It has also been my experience that motorists who are unfamiliar with the device can be confused and unsure how to act when confronted by the device.

In the interests of education and outreach, here is a diagram that illustrates the phases of a PHB.

Illustration of the Phases of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

If you think about it, although the configuration is a little different, the signals really aren’t all that different from normal traffic signals: yellow means caution, steady red means stop, and flashing red means stop and then proceed with caution.

For more details about PHBs, here is an FHA Fact Sheet.

INDOT Proposes Intersection Improvements on East Side

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is proposing a number of road improvements in Bloomington and Monroe County to the Bloomington Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (BMCMPO) in the upcoming years. Two in particular planned for the east side caught my attention.

The first is intersection improvements at State Road 46 (3rd Street) and N Smith Road. The lack of turn lanes at that intersection often causes a single poorly-positioned left turner to to take up an entire light cycle, causing significant unnecessary congestion, as well as potentially dangerous maneuvers to get around the blocked intersection.

The second project is one that I’ve been calling for for a long time — to improve the intersection at State Road 45 (10th Street) and Pete Ellis (to the south) and Range Road (to the north). This intersection sees many of the same problems as 3rd Street and Smith Rd — lack of turn lanes causes frequent very dangerous passing maneuvers. And now that we know that this intersection will be a backup entrance to the new hospital/medical campus, it becomes even more crucial that this intersection be fixed.

The following map shows the locations:

Screenshot 2018-09-13 09.53.27

Unfortunately we won’t be seeing these improvements soon enough. The INDOT proposal shows the engineering/design being performed in Fiscal Year 2019 (which we are already in, running from July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019), any right-of-way acquisition in Fiscal Year 2021, and construction in future years (Fiscal Year 2022 or beyond — the MPO Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) only runs through Fiscal 2021).

Nonetheless, I’m glad to finally see some action on these two dangerous and important intersections.

The MPO Policy Committee will be asked to add these projects, along with other INDOT improvement projects, to the Transportation Improvement Program on Friday, at 1:30 PM. The meeting packet is available here.

Update on County Trail Projects

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Me Pointing at Potential New Multiuse Trail Connecting 2nd Street and Karst Farm Greenway

Last week I gave a presentation to the Bloomington Bicycle Club at their annual meeting, giving an update on a number of County (and one City thrown in there) infrastructure projects with a bike/pedestrian component. This is only a sample — there are more. Since several people asked for copies of that presentation I thought I’d make it available here: BBC Presentation 2018-02-10.

Please note that all of the maps are ones that I made for illustrative purposes. None are official, and project plans may change for any variety of reasons.

Among other projects, I talked about the the Limestone Greenway/Illinois Central corridor south of the Bloomington Rail Trail, the Monon Corridor connecting the Karst Farm Greenway with Ellettsville, and several westside road projects that will have multiuse paths and sidewalk facilities accompanying them. I also discussed a potential project that is still in the conceptual stages that would connect the multiuse path on the north side of Second Street/Bloomfield Road with the Karst Farm Greenway, via Liberty Drive. Here is the map I drew of that potential project:

Screenshot 2018-02-15 16.04.42

Also gave an update on the Vernal Pike Greenway project, that will connect Will Detmer Park (where the existing multiuse path along Vernal Pike ends) to the Karst Farm Greenway. This path will provide multiuse facilities along one of two remaining breaks between the City’s B-Line Trail and the County’s Karst Farm Greenway. This project, after long delays, will finally go into construction this year (2018), and will feature an historic truss bridge over the Indiana Railroad tracks just west of Curry Pike, very similar to this bridge (the actual bridge to be used is in pieces in a warehouse at the moment):

Screenshot 2018-02-16 08.39.10
Historic Truss Bridge to be Used on Vernal Pike Greenway

Finally talked about a City of Bloomington trail project that will run south of Winslow, parallel to and just to the east of the Bloomington Rail Trail.

Screenshot 2018-02-16 08.44.53
City of Bloomington’s Planned Southern B-Line Extension

The idea is to maintain the existing Bloomington Rail Trail’s soft surface, which is beloved by walkers and runners, and create a paved trail in the old CSX railroad corridor parallel to and just to the east of the Rail Trail. This corridor was given to the City by Monroe County in a land swap for the Illinois Central corridor south of Church Lane that the County is currently developing as a trail. The paved surface will be much more usable by cyclists, strollers, wheelchairs, etc. I’ve been told by City Parks and Recreation Officials that this project is slated for 2020, although the corridor has already been cleared by City of Bloomington Utilities for a sewer interceptor project.

Here is a link to a drone flight I took over the corridor.

It was a great opportunity to update the cycling community on many exciting Monroe County projects — and I was also accompanied in the presentation with the City of Bloomington Bicycle Coordinator Beth Rosenbarger, who gave us an update on numerous bike/ped developments and initiatives in the City of Bloomington.

Public-Private Partnership Set for Colorado Central 70 Project

Central70Narrow2This is just a quick update on a previous story. A few months ago I wrote about a major highway project in Colorado (between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport) that was planning on using a public-private partnership (P3) very similar in structure to that of the now-failed I-69 Development Partners selected to develop I-69 Section 5: Major Public-Private Partnership Highway Project Under Consideration in Colorado: Sounds Like Deja Vu All Over Again. The most interesting aspect of the $1.2B project is the lowering and covering of the interstate at one point, and the creation of a 4 acre park that connects two formerly disconnected neighborhoods on top of the cover.

Recently, Kiewit Meridiam Partners was selected to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the Central 70 project. You can find the press release here.

It will be interesting to monitor the progress of this P3, and compare performance vs. the failed I-69 Development Partners. During the debate here in Indiana, while many blamed the selected contractor, others blame the very nature of a public-private partnership for road construction. The Central 70 project will serve as a useful comparison.

 

Bridge Beams Set for Sample Road over I-69 Southbound (Video)

Screenshot 2017-07-22 11.58.46Yesterday, the 4 beams were set for portion of the Sample Road interchange that will go over I-69 southbound. The northbound beams will be set at a later date.

While I’m sure that watching road construction is like watching paint dry for most people, beam setting is really a pretty impressive and precision operation, involving 2 cranes.

Here is a video I made of the operation from my drone. I did my best to condense 2 hours of work into a 9 minute video:

Beam Setting at Sample Road
Click the Image for the Video

 

Thank you very much to INDOT and Keramida (engineering firm) for allowing me to film this operation from my drone safely. In particular, thanks to Sandra Flum, Mark Flick, and Bruce Winningham.

Here is a map that shows approximately where the beams were set:

Screenshot 2017-09-09 07.48.54
Sample Road and State Road 37 (Future I-69)

The beams were set for the bridge over the future southbound lane, which is west of the existing southbound lane. The northbound lane will become a frontage road and the current southbound lane will become the future northbound lane in this area.

Partial Funding for I-69 Section 6 in New State Plan

I69bridgeThis posting is a brief follow-up on a report on Indiana Public Media: How Much Money is Included For I-69 in the State’s New Roads Plan? As the report pointed out, the state’s new 5-year infrastructure investment plan (so-called Next Level Indiana) provides some funding for the final section of I-69 in Indiana, Section 6, which runs from Martinsville to I-465 in Indianapolis. However, as the report also notes, I-69 is not fully funded in the report.

The investment plan breaks out the investments by county. The following table shows the funding for I-69 by county (and also by segment in Marion County):

Screenshot 2017-07-15 07.28.51

So, a total of $554M has been allocated for I-69 through 2022. It appears that the segments going through Morgan County have been fully funded, with allocations going down from there.

How does this compare to the overall costs of the project? The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), Chapter 6 Comparison of Alternatives provides the following summary of the estimated costs by segment:

Screenshot 2017-07-22 12.01.51

Alternative C4 (of which there are two variants) is estimated to cost approximately $1.5B. So at first blush it appears that Section 6 has been funded at around 36% through 2022.

Screenshot 2017-07-22 11.58.46Although the subsections don’t line up perfectly with county boundaries, they are pretty close. Subsections 1-4 are in Morgan County, going from Indian Creek (where Section 6 begins) to Banta Road in Morgan County. Using Alt C4A, total estimated costs are $515.7M, of which $263M (approximately 50%) is funded. Subsection 5 is in Johnson County, and it appears that approximately $153.2M out of $203.5M, or 75%, is funded. And Subsections 6-8 in Marion County appear to be funded at $138.1M out of a total cost of $785.1M (18%). There could, however, be some additional funding in the 5-year plan that isn’t labeled as I-69 — for examples, I-465 improvements — but are part of the overall cost of I-69 Section 6; I don’t know.

So I think one can draw two conclusions from this 5-year plan: (1) the final section of I-69 is not fully funded — not by a long shot. It isn’t clear whether the state will fund the gap by sustaining this level of investment beyond 2022, or through some sort of public-private partnership, or some other approach entirely; and (2) that while section 6 is not fully funded, the state has earmarked a substantial amount of funding for it, belying the claims of some that the state would just “declare victory” after section 5, and leave 37 to Indianapolis as-is. It is clear that the state is serious about completing the project, and is already committing substantial resources to complete it.

Road Funding Per Capita: Who Gets the Least and Who Gets the Most?

I69bridgeToday’s Indy Star published an article on the state’s new 5-year road investment plan funded by the new 10-cent gas tax increase: Which Indiana counties will get the most road funding? (Hint: Not Hamilton County). The article provides data on the amount of funding provided per capita for each county, and highlights the top 10 and bottom 10.

Two aspects of the article that I found particularly noteworthy:

  1. We (Monroe County) will be receiving the lowest amount per capita in the state, at $71.91 per person (compared to $4115.06 for the highest county).
  2. Our neighbor to the north, Morgan County, will be receiving the most per capita at $4115.06.

The article doesn’t really touch on the Monroe County amount, but does note that “Morgan County — home to Martinsville and Mooresville — will by far receive the most road funding per capita at about $4,115 per person.” The article then goes on to quote an INDOT spokesman about state-maintained road-miles and the condition of of roads and bridges in each county. But I’m left astounded that the article doesn’t even mention the obvious reason and context both for Monroe County’s low number and Morgan County’s particularly high number: I-69.

In fact, if you look at the individual road projects in the plan for Morgan County (available here, on pages 144-145), construction of I-69 (the beginnings of Section 6) represents nearly all — $263M out of $287M — of the funding allocated to Morgan County. And conversely, Monroe County is currently “experiencing” over $300M of investment in I-69 and related roads that will (we can only hope) end before the FY2018 funding indicated in the 5-year plan starts to be expended.

One side note is that this situation illustrates that the per-capita measure — and even the per-county measure of investment — is of limited value when long-haul highways are considered. After all, the portion of I-69 that goes through Morgan County certainly does serve Morgan County and its residents — but it also serves residents of many other counties and potentially other states who only want to get through Morgan County as quickly as possible.