Even after they voted to improve the Beltline Boulevard bike crossing on Monday night, St. Louis Park City Council members seemed to acknowledge that more needs to be done.
“It feels like whatever we do is a Band-Aid,” councilwoman Julia Ross said. “This is a temporary fix.”
The crossing often befuddles bikers and motorists—and has been the site of four accidents in the last three years. In October 2009, a biker died after an accident.
Council's plan is to curve and veer the crossing toward the north. This will force bikers to naturally slow down as they approach Beltline, plus it will allow them to see oncoming traffic because they'd run parallel to it as the path curves.
In addition, the Beltline median will be widened, allowing bikers to more easily stop and wait for traffic to pass before they finish crossing the road. (See attached PDFs for a detailed look at the plan)
The project is expected to cost about $150,000.
Council members acknowledged that the ideal plan would be to elevate either the crossing or the road. But with , it is unclear what kind of changes will be needed to accomodate the new track and station—and council doesn't want to invest in a bridge now just to see it possibly torn down in a few years.
“There is no perfect solution to this," Mayor Jeff Jacobs said. "I wish there was.”
Councilwoman Anne Mavity proposed that Beltline be narrowed down to one lane in each direction on a pilot basis, allowing city staff to see if this could fix the problem. Mavity said this would be cheaper and quicker, and would allow the city to get some valuable traffic data.
“I’d like to actually see it," she said, "before we invest $150,000 in infrastructure that we (might) tear down in a few years."
Councilwoman Sue Sanger supported Mavity's plan, but the other five council members did not. Mavity and Sanger in turn voted against the final plan, which passed 5-2.
City staff expect to begin construction in September and have it wrapped up by November.