I had a conversation today with Gary Graham about the bike plan and the construction on 75. The plans for the upgrade on 75 were in the works, reviewed, signed off and funded long before the bike plan was a twinkle in our council’s eye, so nobody should be surprised that there are things being built in the 75 upgrade that do not support a bicycle-friendly environment – and some that actually make things worse for bike traffic.
We talked a lot about how to get bikes from one side of 75 to the other – the pathways are El Dorado, Park View/Valley Creek Trail, Virginia Pkwy, White Ave and 380/University. Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on.
El Dorado. This interchange is being turned into what is called a SPUI – Single Point Urban Interchange. The existing bridge over 75 at El Dorado sucks for pedestrians and cyclists, and the SPUI will have a more appropriate sidewalk but it creates a mixmaster of traffic across the bridge that turns a person on a bicycle into a slow moving obstacle in a chaotic exchange (a target). For this reason the Bike Plan specifically avoids using El Dorado as a means to cross 75.
Park View/Valley Creek Trail. This interchange is being drastically reduced for vehicular traffic. Currently it supports north bound and south bound service roads as they cross two parallel minor roads – one of which only leads to the community Center, the other is a connector from Towne lake to the Soccer fields at Al Ruschhaupt Park. The service roads will be elevated to the level of the highway and pass over Park View and Valley Creek Trail, greatly reducing the traffic there. Valley Creek Trail leads only to the Community Center, very low traffic demands, leaving only the connector between Towne Lake and Ruschhaupt Park as a traffic draw. The good thing here is the huge drop in traffic, the bad thing is the silly sidewalk split (sidewalk is on the South side of the street EXCEPT when crossing under 75 when you have to go to the North side of the street) remains in place – there was no plan to correct this. Gary said the city intends to review this sidewalk after the 75 project ends in the winter of 2015. Because of the drop in traffic and coinciding increase in safety, the bike plan pushes hard to use this as the prime connector east-west across 75.
Virginia Parkway. The bridge at Virginia Parkway will soon be demolished and replaced with a larger roadway that includes u-turn lanes for north and south bound traffic. The traffic lane structure will remain basically unchanged – 2 lanes for thru traffic and 2 lanes for turning traffic. There will be only one cross walk under 75, on the North side of the street. We talked a while about how to make this underpass more bike-friendly, and it boils down to signage and a possible Sharrow lane.
White Avenue. We didn’t talk about this interchange at all. I just realized this as I’m writing. Dan Heischman had mentioned last summer that White was being promoted as one of the key bike pass-thru points, but the plan for 75 didn’t include widening this underpass. I’ll ask Gary about this next time I see him (or if you read this Gary, please add a comment).
380/University. This was never a contender for a bike traffic thru point. Too many road fatalities on 380 over the years have made the thought of promoting bicycle traffic on that road a political no-show.
Gary will be meeting us on Wednesday Aug 15th at 7:30pm at the Pub in McKinney. I strongly encourage you to try and drop by to ask questions and meet Gary.