Friday, November 30, 2012

Road Diets: Still Winning

Awards that is (in this case, a California planning group Moule & Polyzoides won the EPA's top award), but far, FAR more importantly, the areas that implement them are experience significant triple bottom line gains.  The latest example is the BLVD project in Lancaster, CA, which transformed a five lane arterial (which had bulldozed its way through the historic Main Street to make way for more traffic and only ended up killing the place) consisting of 2 travel lanes in each direction and a central turn lane into one travel lane in each direction, one row of parallel parking on each side, and a central parking median for angled head-in parking with special plaza-like pavement.

More importantly, is the data (which really, should be what drives awards rather than the ideology that typically does), which comes directly from the City of Lancaster itself:

·         The BLVD has attracted 49 businesses since late 2009. 

·         Revenue from the downtown area is up 96% compared to the same period in 2007, the year before revitalization efforts began.  (The Downtown Lancaster Specific Plan was adopted in 2008.)

·         The project cost was approximately $11.5 million for a per-block cost of approximately $1.27 million.

·         While Lancaster’s assessed property valuation fell 1.25% overall from 2011 to 2012, property values in the downtown area rose 9.53%. 

·         Private investment is estimated at $130 million.

·         Over 800 permanent jobs have been created, in addition to approximately 1,100 temporary construction jobs.*

·         The project has generated an estimated $273 million in economic output.*

·         Just over 800 housing units have been constructed or rehabilitated.

·         Over 116,000 square feet of commercial space has been constructed or rehabilitated.

·         New public amenities include American Heroes Park, a 13.5-acre, $7 million facility, and the Lancaster Museum of Art & History (MOAH), a three-story, 19,246-square-foot complex.

·         The overall number of traffic collisions has been cut in half, while injury-related collisions have plummeted 85% as a result of the new streetscape and traffic pattern.  (These figures compare the two-year history prior to the transformation with the two years following.)


"Shutup with your observable statistics! We've got PROJECTIONS that say we gotta move cars and we gotta move'em quickly.  Or Else!"

"Or else what?"

"Congestion!"

"Well, yeah.  That's what we want and need for businesses to thrive and attract investment."

All that private investment from simple urbanization of inappropriate and disconnective suburbanized infrastructure.  A novel concept indeed.  Maybe some day they'll learn that magic bullets of high cost/low yield ventures are the way to go.

Here is some imagery:


That's obviously during a special event and I hate being disingenuous, suggesting, like an architectural rendering all of these people actually exist on a normal day (because after all, true urbanism is about the every day, not event planning):


This looks like a typical day and I wonder the nature of the parking.  Is it free?  Do employees take up all the best spots forcing visitors to circle?  Either way, the amenitized central planning median in conjunction with narrowed travel lanes and pedestrian refuges at the crosswalks make it a more tethered, and therefore better interconnected, street.

The Before:
Existing conditions, 2009

The After: