In New Albany, as in St. Paul: “Finding the Political Will to Fix ‘Four-Lane Death Roads.'”


In the aftermath of Chloe Allen’s death at the ridiculously dangerous intersection of Spring and Vincennes, we’ve waited in vain for City Hall to register a response.

A pedestrian was killed, another was sent to the ground two weeks later, and the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety didn’t so much as mention either occurrence.

Through private channels only, a city functionary held that forthcoming changes to Spring between Beharrell and Vincennes would heroically pave the way for future change.

We’ve also been told that getting walkers across a busy street is impossible, because the street is busy, and it’s busy because it’s not controlled, and we’ll do nothing to control it — see, impossible.

What City Hall forever seems unable to grasp is that elected and appointed officials are there to lead. Circling wagons and pouring five more feet of concrete around the down-low bunker do not qualify as leadership.

I’d describe these acts as institutional cowardice.

But I wouldn’t dare insult the institutionalized.

Finding the Political Will to Fix “Four-Lane Death Roads”, by Angie Schmitt (Streetsblog)

A mother was killed as she crossed this “four-lane death road” in St. Paul last week. The victim was 32-year-old Erin Elizabeth Dunham, who was dropping her kid off at the bus. She was walking in the crosswalk on Maryland Avenue, a four-lane, high-speed road running through an urban area.

Local officials know Maryland Avenue is dangerous, which is why the intersection where Dunham was killed was recently the site of a “crosswalk safety awareness campaign.” But the campaign was not enough to prevent Dunham’s death.

What a street like Maryland Avenue needs, says Lindeke, is a road diet to shorten crossing distances and calm motor vehicle traffic by narrowing it to one car lane in each direction and a center turn lane. The hard part is the politics, he writes:

The first road-diet hurdle is institutional. Advocates and leaders have to convince city staff, and public works engineers in particular, that the “loss” of “level of service” (LOS) is worth the “gain” of safety. Making the argument that “more congestion is OK” can be challenging, especially for people in institutions that have spent decades fighting against congestion, or who might see crashes as inevitable accidents. (One common response, at least in Ramsey County, is that any increase in congestion makes streets less safe because drivers will become angry and begin driving erratically. I call this the “LOS extortion argument,” and I don’t think it’s accurate. Rather, I think you can change and “calm” our driving culture through engineering and other efforts.)