“You can’t get there from here,” is not something you want to hear. It’s one of the City’s jobs to provide good roads so its citizens can get safely to their destinations.
Doug Shatto of Loch-mueller Group presented the Jackson Board of Aldermen its updated Jackson Citywide Transportation Plan during study session Jan. 8.
The last transportation study plan was started in 2001 and completed in 2003—15 years ago. There have been significant improvements since then, including:
• Partnering with MoDOT to widen Route 34/72 (West Jackson Boulevard).
• U.S. Hwy. 61 improvements through Uptown Jackson including the roundabout.
• East Main extension to I-55.
• Various spot improvements along Jackson Boulevard.
“Most, if not all, short term projects we recommended were completed,” Shatto told the Board.
The new transportation plan takes into consideration three plans currently being used by the City: a 2003 Jackson Comprehensive Traffic study, a 2009 City of Jackson Comprehensive Plan and a 2014 Parks Master Plan. “All these documents had some common elements,” said Shatto. “We didn’t want to contradict them.”
When comparing current traffic counts to those from 2003, we might be surprised to learn that the City’s population has grown an average of 1.44 percent per year (22 percent since 2003) but traffic counts remained nearly the same or went down everywhere except on East Main Street (east of Lacey Street).
Shatto blamed societal changes for part of the reason. “People are driving less,” he said. More significant is the fact that East Main Street is a new street, so traffic was very low to begin with. As time went on, more traffic began using East Main, which increased its numbers and decreased traffic on other streets. Also, new road connections throughout the city help to disperse traffic, which lowers the traffic counts at other specific locations.
The Transportation Plan praised the addition of new trails in recent years but noted that sidewalks are “severely lacking.” It was recommended that sidewalks be added when streets are repaired. “As a matter of practice, we recommend sidewalks,” Shatto said.
Jackson streets are relatively safe to drive. Since 2012, no crash rates were higher than the statewide average. The number and severity of crashes has remained fairly constant; 76 percent have occurred on MoDOT routes, and 30 percent were on one roadway: Jackson Boulevard.
The report lists 15 “Identified Issues and Concerns”:
1. Parking on arterials and collectors. Streets are classified as “local” (where people live), “collectors” (collects traffic from local streets) and “arterials” (allows traffic to flow through a city).
It is recommended that parking not be allowed on any arterial street (except for Main Street at Uptown) and that parking on collector streets be decided on a case-by-case basis. This could affect residents if their “local” street is reclassified as a “collector”; they may find they will no longer be able to park on the street in front of their home.
2. West Main Street and Farmington Road.
3. Farmington Road and Oak Street.
4. U.S. Hwy. 61 and Independence.
5. Oak Street near West Lane Elementary and the junior high.
6. Middle School on Independence.
7. Orchard Drive Elementary on Orchard Drive.
(The Jackson R-2 School District is working to improve traffic situations for Nos. 5-7 by adding more off-street parking.)
8. East Jackson Boulevard at Donna Drive.
9. U.S. Hwy. 61 at Deer-wood Drive (near the Civic Center). Eventually, a traffic signal will need to be installed at this location, but conditions do not warrant one at this time. A potential intermediate improvement would be to re-stripe Deerwood as three lanes (adding turn lanes).
10. South Georgia and East Adams Street.
11. U.S. Hwy 61. and Mary Street (next to the American Legion Hall). This intersection is busier because traffic increased here after Washington Street at U.S. Hwy. 61 was closed. It might be necessary to move a speed limit sign to this location, add a sign to warn of congested traffic, or place an overhead warning light here. In the long term, Mary Street east of U.S. Hwy. 61 will need to be realigned to match Mary Street west of the highway. Currently there is a jog in the intersection.
12. Circulation in City Park. It was recommended that Cascade Drive be closed at U.S. Hwy. 61, preventing access to the park at that location. This will reduce cut-through traffic and speeding in the park and increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
13. East Main Street sidewalk between Traveler’s Way and Oak Hill Road. It was recommended that a 5-foot wide sidewalk be added on the north side of East Main (with a 2-foot separation from the curb) and a multipurpose trail be added on the south side. A traffic signal is slated to be installed at Oak Hill Road in 2018.
14. Right-of-way procurement.
15. West Main Street roughness. Diamond grinding appears to be too expensive; the Board may consider replacing concrete slabs in the drive lanes.
The City was cautioned to adhere to current standards regarding access management (distances between driveways) and to make sure that developers also adhere to these standards when they plan streets in their subdivisions.
Looking ahead at traffic forecasts, it was suggested that if east Main Street is not widened, alternative roads need to be developed to reduce the traffic load.
Goals for the Major Street Plan are:
1. Provide circumferential connectivity via a new system of arterial roadways. In other words, create a system of “main roads” that circle the city so all traffic traveling through Jackson does not have to pass through the center of town.
2. Extend existing collector roadways to logical end points to provide better connectivity through the city and adjacent areas.
3. Provide access to areas that are likely to see new development in the next 20-25 years. (The 2003 plan showed plans for roads that went way out into the country and will never be developed in our lifetime, Shatto said.
4. Remove redundant collectors.
5. Address existing traffic and environmental constraints and barriers to provide more direct travel paths through the city.
6. Provide appropriate scale of planned roadways that are more in line with growth areas.