Lots of news to report on Quadrille Boulevard. First, FDOT responded to WalkableWPB’s design suggestions with an update on their new design. For the section from Clematis to 3rd, FDOT is now proposing conventional bike lanes with a door zone buffer. WalkableWPB cycle track idea was considered too innovative to be used by FDOT at this time. FDOT stated that they want to wait for FHWA to complete a study on cycle tracks. For the 3rd to Dixie section, FDOT is proposing to paint sharrows. The letter from FDOT was silent on our suggestion to reduce the five lane section from 3rd to Dixie from five to three lanes [FDOT Response letter to Citizens Request]
It was also timely that the Palm Beach Post reported that County Administrator Bob Weisman, citing security concerns, requested that FDOT remove the parallel parking on the courthouse side of the road and replace the parallel parking on the other side of the road with angled parking. In his letter to FDOT, Mr. Weisman is also supportive of a midblock pedestrian crossing to the Courthouse based on staff recommendation:
“… County Staff recommended that all parking be provided on the west side of Quadrille Boulevard in an angled configuration and accompanied by a mid-block pedestrian crossing to the Courthouse.”
Although I‘m somewhat skeptical of the security benefits of eliminating on-street parking in front of the courthouse, there are positive aspects to this proposal and we see merit in Mr. Weisman’s suggestions. The County’s concept would look something like this, with headout angled parking shown since the parking will face a bike lane:
This could provide an opportunity for the County and the City of West Palm Beach to work together to make Quadrille less daunting to cross and safer for the many people frequenting the courthouse, while providing on-street parking yield equal to or greater than what is currently being provided on this block. A proper midblock pedestrian crossing is a great idea if implemented properly (think some combination of raised curb level crosswalk, bulb-out, lighted crosswalk). In the sometimes strained relationship between the county and city, this opportunity for détente should be welcomed and seized upon. In upcoming posts, we will explore the design of this block further.
Another option, if parallel parking were to be eliminated in front of the courthouse, is to continue a three lane section all the way to Dixie with this section:
The separate access road in the above section is needed since FDOT likes wider travel lanes in curves and is not supportive of on-street parking maneuvers in the Quadrille curve. Apparently, they have never been to Galena, Illinois:
or to Jensen Beach, Florida:
The elephant in the room is why does Quadrille need five lanes from 3rd to Dixie? There is nothing magical that makes traffic increase in the 3rd to Dixie section. There is probably a need for additional lanes at the Dixie intersection, but it doesn’t make sense to have a five lane section going into a three lane section and with the upcoming change of the Flagler / Flagler Bridge intersection from a partial grade separated intersection to a full at grade intersection we might see less traffic on Quadrille. The most critical decision for the Quadrille project is if the five lane section can be reduced to three lanes?
The question then becomes what to do with the other two lanes of excess pavement. Bike facilities and on-street parking both compete for the two unneeded lanes. As the decision is made on how to allocate this space we must guard against the myopic corridor level complete streets approach that typifies highway projects in urban environments. With this approach you often end up with a project that checks off every transportation mode on the checklist, but doesn’t make a great street. The Jeff Speck Walkability study proposed to increase parking on Quadrille without providing bike facilities. Bike facilities were to be provided via a two way cycle track on Flagler. Unfortunately, Jeff’s idea isn’t feasible due to FDOT restricting on-street parking in the Quadrille curve. Bold ideas such as doubling down on parking or only providing parking on side of the road with a cycle track need to be considered.
Here is hoping that in the New Year everyone takes a step back and begins a dialogue on what we want Quadrille to be. The Quadrille project has the potential to be so much more than a simple resurfacing project. There is the potential to make low cost changes that will make a significant improvement in the quality of life of West Palm Beach and mark the beginning of a productive new relationship between the City and County.