Monday, April 28, 2014

Pedestrian Enhancements in Northfield: A Wish List

On Monday, May 5, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) will be holding a discussion on “public infrastructure for multi-modal transportation” in Northfield. You can find out more here. Among the suggested topics of discussion are “proposed pedestrian enhancements at 3rd Street and Highway 3” and “challenges to pedestrian crossing of Washington and Woodley Streets.”

Here’s my wish list of improvements to pedestrian access, safety, and connectivity in Northfield:
  1. A safe, traffic controlled pedestrian crossing on Highway 3 at Third Street. I’ve blogged about this here.
  2. A four-way stop at the intersection of Washington and Fifth Streets. I’ve lived within sight of this intersection for over 20 years, and have lost track of how many accidents occur there. Especially during downtown events, such as the Deafeat of Jesse James Days, cars parked along Washington Street make it difficult for cars on Fifth Street to see cross traffic without pulling out so far that they risk being hit. A traffic count should be done on both Washington and Fifth to determine whether a four-way stop is warranted. If not, the pedestrian crossing should at least be improved.
  3. A continuous sidewalk on at least one side of Woodley Street from Highway 3 to Prairie Street, together with marked pedestrian crossings at Linden/Jefferson Rd. and Washington St. There is currently a sidewalk on the east side of Linden/Jefferson south of Woodley, but it ends at Woodley and connects to nothing. Woodley is a busy street and it is dangerous to walk along the side of the street. Of course, Woodley between Hwy. 3 and Division St. is a state highway (246), so MnDOT would have to approve any enhancements. A marked pedestrian crossing of Woodley at Washington would create a safer pedestrian route to the high school.
  4. A continuous, safe pedestrian and bike connection between downtown Northfield and the new police station and Arcadia Charter School. What does it say about Northfield that an essential service such as the police department is safely accessible from downtown only by car? The walk or bike out to the new station (and to a grades 6-12 public school) is hazardous for pedestrians. The bike trail currently ends at the old Village School site, and the sidewalk ends opposite AmericInn. The road beyond this point doesn’t even have a well-marked shoulder for bikes and pedestrians.
  5. Better traffic control and pedestrian safety at the intersection of Division (Highway 246) and Jefferson Blvd. I find it incomprehensible that a major intersection in the vicinity of three schools (the high school, Bridgewater Elementary, and the middle school) is so dangerous and poorly controlled.
  6.  I blogged earlier about the intersection of Armstrong Rd. and Highway 19. A safe crossing at Hwy. 3 and 3rd St. and at Armstrong Rd. and Hwy 19, together continuous sidewalk and trail on Third St., Forest Ave., and Armstrong Rd, as far as the entrance to Sechler Park, would provide continuous connectivity (a loop, in fact) between Bridge Square, Odd Fellows Park, and Sechler Park. It would improve connectivity between the east and west sides, and between the west side and Sechler Park.

As I see it, based on almost 25 years in Northfield and thousands of hours of walking in the city, these (and the TIGER Trail) should be the priorities for improving the public infrastructure for pedestrians in Northfield.

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