9th Street between K Street and L Street has changed once again. The bicyclist issues have been ‘solved’ by the complete closure of the street. The sidewalk on the west side is open, but there is no motor vehicle traffic, no bicyclist traffic, and no bus traffic. There is a bus stop in this block which is once again inaccessible after having been closed for some while for the construction on the west side, was open briefly, and is now closed again.
I have been out of town, so am not sure when the closure took affect, but judging by the number confused drivers, including one transit driver, it must have been recently. The display sign says the closure will last through mid-July.
I have mixed feelings about these types of complete closures. To some degree they are just excuses for the construction company to store materials on the street, rather than other locations. But maybe with the hazards created for all modes by partial closures, complete closure is the best option. It does point out that drivers will adjust to the new situation without the world ending, as is often claimed by cars-first people.
For bicyclists not used to riding on K Street, be careful of the light rail tracks. To the west, the tracks are not hard to ride along, but to the east, between 9th Street and 10th Street, there is a cross-over that can trap you if you are riding between the two sets of tracks.
At the south edge of the sidewalk and bikeway closure, at L Street, there is now some signing, below. However, the signing and fencing do not meet ADA detectability requirements. Though there is more than one way of meeting detectability, an example graphic follows, showing a low bar across the entire width, detectable by canes used by vision impaired people. See my earlier post signs and diagrams for construction zones and construction zone solutions for more information on signing and barriers.
What would otherwise be a reasonable route and signing for northbound pedestrians is blocked by an open construction gate. This open gate was not being actively used in any way, it had just been left open. A person walking is forced to walk outside the crosswalk to get to the bypass.
For southbound bicyclists on 9th Street at K Street, the diversion starts suddenly, pushing bicyclists into the traffic lane without warning. This is not necessary, the construction cone placed blocking the separated bikeway should not be there. This is just plain sloppiness. The bikeway could remain open, with a half block available to place signing that explains there will be a diversion and bypass ahead.
Then there is the entrance to the walking and bicycling bypass, below. The same lack of detectable barriers as in the first item also exists here. If a vision limited walker encountered the construction fencing across the sidewalk, they would have no idea where the bypass is. The ‘sidewalk closed’ and ‘pedestrian detour’ signs are MUTCD compliant signs, MUTCD R9-9 and MUTCD M9-4b respectively, but they need to be placed on or above a detectable barrier, not on sawhorses which do not meet detectability requirements. The ‘bikes’ sign is a made-up sign, and because of its size, it intrudes into the shared bike and pedestrian space. I can imagine bicyclists hitting the sign on their way into the bypass. The correct sign for the location is actually MUTCD M9-4a, shown below.
It took about four weeks for the city and construction company to come up with and implement a new traffic control plan, which is ridiculous. If there had been a problem with motor vehicle traffic instead of for walkers and bicyclists, it would have been solved in less than a week. And it would have been done right. Either the new traffic control plan does not really meet ADA requirements, or the signing and barricades placed do not follow the traffic control plan. Remember, this is a city project, reconstruction of Capitol Park Hotel, so not only is the city responsible for managing streets, but also for managing the construction project. Take a look at the photos, or go walk or bicycle the section of 9th Street between K Street and L Street. The sloppiness of the work is glaring. As I’ve said before, the city does not care about walkers and bicyclists, and is not fulfilling its legal responsibilities.
Why is that I, a private citizen, continually have to tell the city when they are doing things wrong, and how to do it right?