Choosing Safer Streetscapes

Choosing Safer Streetscapes

Streets and parking lots have become an integral part of our urban landscapes, because cars are integral. This sometimes offers us convenience and at other times sets us up for long commutes and deadly encounters. The early streetscape of St. Paul was defined by electric streetcars and has since been transformed by the expansion of the road system, driven by Ford’s mass production of the automobile, resulting in a culture that treats personal vehicles as the norm to get from A to B. Thankfully, groups like Smart Growth America have taken notice of the dangers of automobile oriented transportation planning and regularly share findings in reports like Dangerous by Design, highlighting what roads in the country are most dangerous and why. Looking towards solutions, SGA invests in expansion of a Complete Streets approach, promoting safety and easy access. The American Association of Retired Persons also offers some great tips on how to safely and efficiently integrate parking. When does streetscape design bring benefits and when does it cost us time and sometimes lives? Here are a few of SGA’s insights related to Street Networks and Easing Traffic: Providing travel choices – walking, bicycling, and public transportation – can reduce the demand for peak-hour travel in cars, the # 1 cause of daily traffic Public transportation fits more people in the same road space, reducing traffic Well connected streets with short blocks create more choices, increase direct access, and diffuse traffic Dangerous streets lack designated areas for different modes and high speeds in pedestrian zones As the City of St. Paul evaluates how to best build in transportation infrastructure to...

Our Choices in Trips and Transportation Investments

The “built environment” influences choices about how we get around. Yet in the planning and policy making process, we also have a choice to help ensure decision makers choose the best investments for our infrastructure. How easy is it to get to work or school or the store? How safe do you feel crossing the street once you’ve gotten there? What makes some methods of getting there easier or harder? Public infrastructure, zoning, all private development all contribute to shaping opportunities for getting where we need to go. That built environment, combined with personal experiences and social conditions, impact what kind of trips we choose to take. http://arisecommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ARISE-Transportation-Brief-4-15-15-convert-video-online.com_.mp4 The City of St. Paul, along with the Ford Site Task Force, aims to establish a transportation and land use framework for the Ford Site that supports safe and accessible options for all ages and abilities. Last Thursday April 30th, people filled Gloria Dei Fellowship Hall, to learn about what the City sees as opportunities for on-site transportation connections and to give feedback on proposed options. Ford Site Task Force chair Kyle Makarios laid out that this input will go to refine the City’s transportation priorities and feed into a zoning and a Public Realm Plan to be completed early 2016. Development will hopefully begin around 2018. Priorities guiding the City’s emerging transportation framework include: Create an interconnected system Design for a mix of density and activities to support transit through and around the site Plan urban design & site layout to reduce auto trips and manage traffic impacts Council Member Tolbert also helped frame up the City’s intentions in saying...

Vision to Action, Taking Steps

The Ford Site steps into the spotlight, as the property moves closer to market and a team of City staff and partners in the planning process embark on a Europe tour of cutting edge livable community developments. It is apparent from Mayor Coleman’s message to the public that the City aims to connect the eventual planners and developers of the site with cutting edge examples of livable mixed-use developments.  In addition to the research being done on what is possible to build there, this can help demonstrate to the eventual owners of the property, that forward thinking development is very possible and even in their interests. But what are ways to see these great ideas through?  There’s a range of options, some are in the works and some yet to be tapped. Here is our latest update video covering the happenings around the Ford Site. In order to be able to make sure the site is on track for success, an important step is to understand how different elements of the design could work together for the best outcomes, as well as factors that may influence what is possible to build there. Then we can work on ensuring the developers, planners, etc. implement the beautiful outcomes we know are possible. At the most recent public meeting related to the City’s Ford Site studies, Merritt Clapp-Smith laid out the existing Public Open Space priorities and the assumptions they are based on. She then invited feedback on preferences for how the (9%) roughly 9 acres of dedicated park space could be used, as well as the types of connections to the surrounding area. This feedback will be incorporated in an overall framework that will help...

Ford Site Update Video!

Activity around the Ford Site development is progressing steadily! Some of the studies are moving more quickly than others, but in both cases opportunities are opening up for the public and ARISE to help shape the direction of the development.  Learn about the most recent activity in our compact 30 min Ford Site Update Video! The video includes a summary of the proposed ARISE plan for the site, a recap of studies underway, and an invitation to action. As planning progresses and parameters are set on the development, ARISE aims to support a wide range of stakeholders in learning about the impact of different development directions, aligning their priorities, and working together to advance a plan that represents an intersection of their priorities. Thanks to the Temple of Aaron for hosting our last Ford Site meeting and thanks to all those who attended for sharing what you see as important to include in the plan to maximize benefits on the site. A correction to the video: the Density Study currently happening encompasses Ward 3, but primarily deals with impact of development on existing single family homes. You can find out more about this study and give input Jan 20th at the Highland District Council Community Development meeting (6:30-8:00) at Hillcrest Recreation Center. Stay tuned for upcoming public input...

Regional Public Input Kick-off!

Monday, November 10, the City of St. Paul kicked off a new round of citizen feedback on the Ford Site, with a public forum at St. Catherine’s on the development planning progress and design priorities. This will mark a fresh start to the Ford Site Task Force meetings, as the City works with public, private, and citizen stakeholders to, in Mayor Coleman’s words, “set the site up for success.” Coleman painted a picture of the historic opportunity at the Ford Site, as a chance to create a fitting legacy that Highland Park, Ford, and the City are proud of, that puts Saint Paul on the map for livability, and that creates a positive regional impact on the economy. The auditorium applauded the Ford Site Task Force for sticking with the development over six years of community input thus far, as Merritt Clap Smith, Saint Paul’s Principal City Planner, outlined the year ahead, before the site goes to market. This timeline was verified by Steve Bill of Ford Land, who oversees the decommissioning, which now primarily entails soil testing and concrete recycling. Distilled from years of previous research and public input, Jonathan Sage-Martinson, the new Planning and Economic Development Director, laid out the City’s priorities that are now guiding further studies and citizen engagement. These included: a mix of uses and activity, housing variety, jobs and tax base, energy and sustainability, transportation choice, and parks and amenities. These development priorities articulated by the City are highly aligned with the ARISE priorities, including the emphasis on family sustaining jobs, through ARISE’s concept of Active Open Space includes more explicit emphasis on...

Re-imagining Hidden Falls Creek

Hidden Falls Park has connected Highland Park to the river for decades, but what if there was a way to draw locals to the bluff more than through its current reputation and an alluring name?  Hidden Falls Creek has now risen back into visioning discussions of what could become of the Ford site and the possibilities are truly inspiring. Around 2009, Lucius Jonett, now Water Resources and Landscape Designer at Wenk Associates Inc., conducted his Capstone Project at the U of M on how the Hidden Falls Creek underneath the Ford Site could be brought back to the surface as a central feature of the new redevelopment. To resurface Jonett’s great work, as the public discussion around the redevelopment is stirring, ARISE invited Jonett to present on his findings at the October Highland District Council meeting.   After we heard about the St. Paul Dept. of Parks and Rec.’s proposal to revitalize below the falls, Jonett wowed the room with keen, clear explanation of how deep research of the site’s natural history, combined with new technical engineering, can make possible an inspiring and wealth generating community amenity. By “daylighting” Hidden Falls Creek, local residents and visitors can enjoy a new way to connect with each other and the natural surroundings, while increasing property values for homes and businesses. What was submerged by a cutting edge industry of its time can be a revived and celebrated, in a new model of development that values economic prosperity with community and the environment. Thank you, Jonett, for your great excellent, grounded visioning work!...