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May 7, 2008 Minutes

Members Present:   Jeremy Gorden,  Norm Scott,  Mark Bittner,                  
                                 Al Weigel,  Jim Hinderaker,  Mike Williams,
                                 Ryan Dorrheim (for David Todd)                 

Others Present:   Jay Drechsel,  Albert Salvator,  Andrea Domaskin,            
                              Wendell Herman,  Mike Tupa,  David Nelson

Commissioner Williams called the meeting to order at 4:00 PM.

1.   Approve minutes from December 5, 2007, regular meeting:
Mark Bittner motioned, Norm Scott seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

2.   No Parking request for one side of street parking on 24 Ave S from 5 St 
      to University Dr:
Jeremy Gorden put out a memo on April 9th to the residents that have fronting properties on 24th Ave S east of University Dr.  Numerous citizens have contacted him regarding parking being allowed on both sides of the street, as well as the Street Department has made it known that it is narrow making it harder for them to maintain this street during the winter months.  Jeremy wanted to get a discussion going with the citizens and TTAC regarding this area, and to decide how to approach a solution to the problem.

David Nelson – 619 24th Ave S – stated that he is responsible for a petition that he routed to the residents along the block opposing the proposed parking change.  The main concern is that with fewer cars parked along the street, that speeds would increase.  More than one of the residents that Mr. Nelson spoke to, stated that they park on the street intentionally to help keep speeds down.  Jeremy Gorden stated that research supports the residents, the narrower the street, the slower the traffic tends to be.  Al Weigel stated that narrowing the street, especially in winter, makes it difficult to maintain the road without property damage to the cars parked along the street.  Norm Scott stated that a minimum of 20 feet is needed for fire trucks to safely pass through the area.  A discussion followed regarding future changes to snow maintenance areas and roadway width for emergency vehicles.

Mike Tupa – 802 24th Ave S – questioned the precedence, snow emergency route vs. school zones.  Jeremy Gorden replied that there is not any precedence for one over the other.  Mr. Tupa stated that no one follows the school speed limits, and this creates a hazardous situation.

Albert Salvator – 808 24 Ave S – stated that he has lived here since 1989 and has noticed numerous issues over the years.  Mr. Salvator is a former Highway Patrol Officer, and has written tickets in excess of 20 mph over the speed limit on the street.  He identifies this as a serious problem, and removing parking on one or both sides would help increase speeds.

Jeremy Gorden said he didn't have a recommendation at this point, but he wanted to get the maintenance concerns addressed for the next winter to better keep the corridor open.

Mark Bittner moved to table the issue until after the winter maintenance parking changes have been made.  Norm Scott seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

3.   Speed Limit Reduction Request on 32 Ave S from University Dr to East 
      I-29 Ramp:
Officer Ryan Dorrheim explained that 32 Ave S has a lot of high crash areas, and has been at a posted speed limit of 40 mph for many years.  This area of town is a mix of commercial and residential neighborhoods. Jeremy Gorden had data collected along the corridor, with traffic ranging from 17,000 to 19,000 cars in the days of the study.  The median speed has decreased to 35 mph with the increase of volume along the road.  Fargo PD has conducted targeted enforcement along this corridor, as well as crash studies.  25th St and 27th St have emerged as high crash locations.  The results of the crash studies indicates that speed is a major factor in the crashes.  Another issue noted by officers and the speed study is a mixed speed profile on 32 Ave S.  The mixed speed poses a safety hazard due to drivers inability to distinguish between faster moving cars as they pass slower traffic, resulting in crashes.  The speed reduction would work toward balancing speed and reduction of the severity of crashes.  More than half the crashes noted in the crash study were on dry pavement, showing weather as a small factor in this area.

Jeremy Gorden stated that with the trees in the median, the perception of the driver is that the road is narrow, leading to slower traffic.  Driver perception of the speed differential is also an issue, so he supported a lower speed limit.

Norm Scott said that with the numbers shown, there are roughly 7 million cars driving this street in a year, with 94 crashes, leading him to ask what is an acceptable level of risk.  The road is divided with limited access, and is a major thoroughfare.

After further discussion, it was the consensus of the Committee that speed was not clearly identified as the cause of crashes nor the severity of crashes.  Given that the majority of traffic is already traveling at or below 35 mph based on the geometry of the roadway, the Committee asked for more speed and volume data from Traffic Engineering, and more data on the crashes along 32 Ave S.

Mark Bitner recommended that the issue be tabled until more data can be collected, and Jeremy Gorden seconded the motion.  The recommendation passed unanimously.

4.   Request from Bethel Free Church to access Carlson Public Library Lot 
      for use of traffic signal at 28 ST & 32 Ave S:
Officer Dorrheim was contacted by Bethel Free Church requesting to share the parking lot with the new library so that parishioners can use the traffic signal to access 32 Ave S.  Officer Dorrheim stated that Fargo PD is supporting the recommendation to grant use of the access to Bethel Free Church.  Jeremy Gorden also stated that he strongly supports the idea.

Wendell Herman – 2019 Rose Creek Dr. – representing Bethel Free Church.  He stated that he met with the Pastor and was informed that the Park District was set to grant the church an easement for the connecting driveway.  Mr. Herman also stated that he would like to put the driveway construction cost onto the special assessment for the church.

Commissioner Williams asked Mr. Herman what days the church would need the access, and he stated that the church has events and preschool going throughout the week, and unless it became a problem with cut through traffic, that a gate would not be necessary.

Mark Bittner stated that the Committee doesn’t have any authority to grant the request, but needs to state their approval of the use of the traffic signal for this new access.  The Committee was in agreement.

5.   Other Business:
With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 5:00 pm.