Study greenlights Inman Street Corridor proposal

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 7/21/19

An application for a $17 million grant to fund the Inman Street Corridor streetscape project has been signed, sealed and delivered.A traffic study commissioned by the City of Cleveland determined the …

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Study greenlights Inman Street Corridor proposal

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An application for a $17 million grant to fund the Inman Street Corridor streetscape project has been signed, sealed and delivered.

A traffic study commissioned by the City of Cleveland determined the project will benefit vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The findings of the study were included in a Federal Highway Administration Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant application submitted July 15.

The road project will be the first step in the city’s downtown revitalization initiative, which has been dubbed a “reimagining of the heart of downtown Cleveland."

The 1.2-mile Inman Street Corridor project involves the length of roadway from Keith Street to East Street.

A key element of the road diet includes reducing the number of lanes from four to three to slow traffic as it passes through downtown, where future implementation of the city’s downtown redevelopment master plan will feature parks, green spaces, a proposed sports complex, hotels, apartments and townhouses. 

According to Cleveland City Manager Joe Fivas, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has also endorsed the project.

“TDOT has accepted and approved it and sent a letter of support for the project,” Fivas said.

Also called a “road diet,” the master plan seeks to transform Inman Street from four to three lanes, with the goal of facilitating traffic flow while making the city’s downtown street safer for pedestrian traffic.

“This road diet along Inman Street is expected to operate well and be a benefit to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” the study concluded.

The $22,000 study was conducted by Volkert, Inc., a Franklin-based infrastructure engineering firm, which served as a grant package consultant. 

“The analyses included in this report indicate that the impacts of a road diet along Inman Street from Keith Street to East Street in Cleveland will not significantly affect the signalized intersections, and will only improve the operations at the unsignalized intersections, the report found. “The volumes as well as vehicular and pedestrian characteristics along Inman Street make this corridor a good candidate for a road diet.”

Unsignalized intersections are not controlled by a a highway traffic signal. 

In addition, the study determined the road diet “would not cause traffic currently utilizing Inman Street to be diverted to other routes.”  

City of Cleveland Director of Development and Engineering Services Jonathan Jobe said the study not only confirmed that traffic flow will improve, but with an added benefit: safety.

“It will be much safer for drivers and pedestrians,” Jobe said

With the addition of designated turn lanes, rear-end collisions will be reduced. In addition, new and wider sidewalks, which are projected to measure 10 to 15 feet, will greatly improve pedestrian safety.

The traffic lane reduction will be accompanied with medians and three roundabouts.

According to the study, “crash summaries between 2016 and 2019 were analyzed along Inman Street from Keith Street to East Street. As a result, the total number of motorized and non-motorized incidents recorded during this time period was 173 crashes.”

Some significant crash findings are as follows:

• “The dominant crash types are rear-end and angular collisions, which account for 30% (52) and 40% (70) of the total crashes, respectively. Collision with a fixed object accounts for 13% (23) of the crashes.”

• "Approximately 80.9% of the crashes (140) were classified as property damage crashes. Of the crashes, 2.3% (4) resulted in suspected serious injuries while suspected minor injury crashes resulted in 16.8% (29) of crashes.”

• “Crashes involving bicycles and/or pedestrians account for approximately 4% (7) of the total number of crashes along the corridor. Various driver and pedestrian factors are attributed to the cause of pedestrian incidents such as vehicle speed, driver distraction, or improper crossing maneuvers.” 

The report also noted the city has reported complaints from pedestrians regarding turning vehicles not yielding to them.

A similar road diet was applied to Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville, which consisted of lane reductions, as well as the addition of medians.

According to the City of Knoxville’s website, “the Cumberland Avenue Project transformed a semi-suburban, auto-oriented corridor that was frequently used as a pass through on the way to somewhere else and made it into an urban, multi-modal corridor providing safe and attractive transportation for pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, while creating a unique urban district with a variety of opportunities for people to stay and discover a great place.”

The reconstructed Cumberland Avenue corridor was reduced from a four to a three-lane street, with a median to direct left-turn movements. In addition, traffic signals were better synchronized to facilitate traffic flow.

The project also improved safety along the well-traveled route, which is  adjacent to the University of Tennessee campus.

• ”In the six-month period since the project was completed, Police Department traffic crash data shows an approximate 40% reduction in vehicle crashes along the corridor. In addition, no pedestrian or bicycle crashes with vehicles have been reported, in the same time period — a direct result of inherent conflicts having been dramatically reduced.”

• ”As predicted, traffic volumes are down by 5 to 21% at different points throughout the corridor. This reflects the desired effect of Cumberland Avenue being transformed from a cut through route to a destination. Delays in average commute times have been minimal overall. And at different peak travel times, signal system optimization has improved travel times for both eastbound and westbound commuters by 7.5 to more than 20%.”

• ”The $25 million project has leveraged more than $190 million in private investment and brought more than 1,400 new residents to the half-mile corridor from 17th Street to University Commons Way.”

In addition appraised property values showed significant increases as well, with appraisals for 2017 totaling over $201 million, an increase of 115% over the previous year. 

Once the Inman Street project begins, Jobe said  it is expected to be completed within 12 months. A project start date has not yet been scheduled.

"The project is still in the planning stages," Jobe said.

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