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File #: 2022-2075   
Type: Consent Calendar Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 7/5/2022
Title: WITHDRAWN - Recommendation to Approve Design Concept for Mecartney Road/Island Drive Roundabout Improvement. (Transportation 20962740) [Will not heard on July 5, 2022]
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Evaluation Summary, 2. Exhibit 2 - Online Survey Results, 3. Exhibit 3 - Community Workshop Notes, 4. Exhibit 4 - Roundabout Concept, 5. Exhibit 5 - Bus Turn Templates, 6. Exhibit 6 - Truck Turn Templates, 7. Exhibit 7 - Fire Truck Turn Templates, 8. Correspondence - Updated 7/5

Title

 

WITHDRAWN - Recommendation to Approve Design Concept for Mecartney Road/Island Drive Roundabout Improvement. (Transportation 20962740) [Will not heard on July 5, 2022]

 

Body

 

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

In the City’s Capital Budget for 2015-17, the City Council approved expenditure of $300,000 in City funds to develop an improvement concept for the Mecartney Road/Island Drive (Mecartney/Island) intersection to improve this wide and busy intersection for all modes of transportation by using best practices to enhance safety and mobility.  In 2021, City staff and Kittelson & Associates, Inc. (Kittelson) considered a range of potential improvement options, including a roundabout, a reduced footprint all-way stop, a “do nothing” option, and a traffic signal option.  Based on an analysis and community engagement in late 2021 and early 2022, the City staff/consultant team is recommending approval of a roundabout concept for the Mecartney/Island intersection.  

 

On March 23, 2022, the Transportation Commission voted unanimously to recommend City Council approval of the roundabout concept with the ultimate design to prioritize the lane transition, bus pullouts and pedestrian crossing safety improvements and with Transportation Improvement Fund (TIF) expenditures to prioritize Bay Farm Island and the original intent of the funds to improve access.

 

The project webpage is www.alamedaca.gov/MecartneyIsland <http://www.alamedaca.gov/MecartneyIsland>.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Mecartney/Island intersection is a wide intersection that also serves as a bus route, truck route, school route and bikeway.  The drive alone rates at Bay Farm, Earhart and Lincoln schools are 50 percent, 35 percent and 25 percent, respectively, which could be decreased with a safer and simpler intersection.  The intersection is adjacent to both commercial and residential land uses, including the Harbor Bay shopping center and the new Starbucks, which generates more morning demand at this intersection.

 

The goals for the Mecartney/Island improvement concept is to improve safety for all users, improve mobility for all modes, including AC Transit buses and trucks, increase the areas of pervious surfaces and increase landscaped areas to improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by making alternative forms of transportation more convenient and safe.

 

Roundabouts have been proven to reduce the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by 90 percent when compared to conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections.  Roundabouts result in lower vehicle speeds, generally 15-25 miles per hour, around the roundabout.  Crashes that do occur are less severe because of this reduced speed and the reduced opportunities for “head on” or “T-bone” collisions between vehicles.  Pedestrians are generally safer at roundabouts, and are faced with simpler decisions at a time.  Videos and presentations on roundabouts are available at:

                     Roundabout Education at City of Alameda Transportation Commission (Jan 27, 2021)

- Staff Report/Presentation <https://alameda.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4758234&GUID=2345B774-9EAA-4A94-9A51-BFC236809F5E&Options=&Search=&FullText=1>

- Video <http://alameda.granicus.com/player/clip/2716?view_id=6&redirect=true> (at 30 minute mark)

                     Metropolitan Transportation Commission Roundabouts <https://mtc.ca.gov/operations/programs-projects/streets-roads-arterials/roundabouts>

                     FHWA Video: A Safer Choice <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly_6lWM>

                     FHWA Video: An Innovative Solution to Intersection Safety Concerns <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6LoK0hxj7k>

                     FHWA Roundabout Safety Resources <https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/index.cfm>

 

DISCUSSION

 

As stated in the City’s Capital Budget for 2015-17, the Mecartney/Island improvement concept should be designed to improve safety and operations at the location.  To prepare the recommended design concept, the staff/consultant team reviewed an intersection evaluation from 2019, which showed improved operations for a roundabout concept compared to an all-way stop and signal alternative and engaged the Bay Farm Island community with an online survey, a virtual community workshop and focus group meetings at Bay Farm and Earhart Schools (Exhibits 2 and 3).

 

For the online survey, there were about 360 survey respondents who mainly were residents on Bay Farm Island (86 percent) and were a representative sample of the Bay Farm Island community.  The majority of the respondents stated that they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the safety and operations of Mecartney/Island.  The roundabout and traffic signal concepts tied as the highest priority.  The least preferred option to proceed is “do nothing” at 44 percent of the respondents, and no other intersection generated more interest with community members.  Key themes discussed during the community outreach process include emergency vehicle access and evacuation, which both work with the roundabout concept, and Starbucks traffic issues, which will return to the Planning Board this fall for potential circulatory improvements with recommendations provided by the City’s transportation consultant, Kittelson.  Community members also expressed concern about bicycle and pedestrian safety. 

 

Staff is recommending the roundabout concept because it simplifies the travel experience for people walking and bicycling, making it possible to cross one travel lane at a time with a refuge between each travel lane.  The roundabout also provides for slower vehicle speeds, which will reduce the severity of potential injuries or the possibility of death when a collision does occur.  Table 1 below provides a summary of the major considerations and benefits of the roundabout concept.

 

Table 1: Roundabout Concept Recommendation Summary for Mecartney/Island

Evaluation Category

Improvement

Safety and quality of service

1) Shorter pedestrian crossings 2) Speed control features 3) Reduced conflicts between and among travel modes 4) Provide option for bike travel on-street or in separate path with bike crossings

Improved vehicle mobility and operations

1) Reduced travel delay  2) Volume-to-capacity ratio of 0.6 3) Resilient to future increased travel demand

Opportunities for landscaping and flood reduction

1) Reduced intersection footprint 2) Flexibility in additional use of space 3) Central island landscaping and art opportunities

Transit mobility and accessibility

1) Improved operations keeps buses moving 2) Coordinating optimal stop locations with AC Transit

Site specific issues

1) Eliminates existing U-turn patterns 2) Coordinating Starbucks access with Planning

Design vehicles

1) Serves AC Transit buses and large trucks 2) Accommodates emergency vehicle access

 

Next Steps

 

At this time, staff is requesting that the City Council endorse the roundabout design concept for the intersection.    As part of the City’s annual Budget Capital Improvement Program process, the Transportation Commission and City Council determine which of the many improvement projects needed citywide should be prioritized for funding over the next two years.  The prioritization criteria give preference to projects on high injury corridors and to project in vulnerable communities.  This project is not on a high injury corridor, and it is not in a vulnerable community. 

 

Regarding costs, the staff/consultant team estimates that the Mecartney/Island roundabout concept would cost approximately $5.9 million.  City staff/consultant team recommends a phased approach to construction so as to expedite the core elements of the roundabout, which are expected to total about $2.3 million for this first phase.  A subsequent construction phase, which would include the addition of adjacent path improvements and bioretention areas for flood reduction at the lane transitions, is expected to total $3.6 million.

 

A potential future source of funding might be the Transportation Improvement Fund (TIF) for Harbor Bay, which is a fund to address “existing and anticipated future issues and problems involving access to Bay Farm Island and Harbor Bay Isle (“HBI”).  The funds for the TIF are generated by an assessment district on Business Park Owners and construction improvement taxes which are collected upon issuance of a building permit in the Business Park or in the residential areas of Harbor Bay.  The vast majority of the TIF funds are therefore generated by the Business Park property owners and developers.   Any future decision to use TIF funds for this intersection would need to be done in consultation with the Business Park Business Association, per the terms of the TIF agreements.

 

ALTERNATIVES

 

The City Council may consider a range of alternatives:

                     Approve the roundabout concept for Mecartney/Island;

                     Approve the roundabout concept for Mecartney/Island with revisions determined necessary by the City Council; and

                     Not approve the roundabout concept, and direct staff to proceed with another approach.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

A decision to approve or deny the concept would have no impact on the General Fund or other City funds.  A future decision to proceed with construction drawings and actual construction would have an impact on City of Alameda financial resources and would need to be considered at such time that the improvement is programed for implementation.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

 

The Mecartney/Island roundabout concept is consistent with the General Plan (2021), which mentions roundabouts as follows:

ME-7: Safe Streets:

e. Roundabouts. Increase the use of roundabouts at intersections to improve the safety and lower maintenance costs compared to traffic signals.

j. Intersection Safety. To improve safety at a stop controlled or signalized intersections, consider a roundabout design or eliminating right turns on red and adding pedestrian scrambles to existing signals.

k. Roundabouts and Traffic Circles. When considering modification to an intersection, prioritize roundabouts and traffic circles for consideration recognizing that land acquisition needs, operational considerations, or other engineering factors or constraints may result in other intersection solutions on a case-by-case basis.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

Approval of the Mecartney/Island roundabout concept is categorically exempt pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines section 15301(c) Existing Facilities (Minor alterations to existing facilities including bicycle facilities) and Section 15304(h) Minor Alterations to Land and the creation of bicycle lanes on existing public rights of way.

 

CLIMATE IMPACT

 

Since vehicle miles traveled in Alameda is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Alameda, City staff is expecting that a roundabout at Mecartney/Island would have a positive climate impact.  The roundabout concept was developed to make it safer and more convenient to bicycle, walk and ride the bus and to reduce congestion and idling motor vehicles.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Approve design concept of the Mecartney Road/Island Drive roundabout improvement.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Thomas, Director of Planning, Building and Transportation

 

By,

Gail Payne, Senior Transportation Coordinator

 

Financial Impact section reviewed,

Margaret L. O'Brien, Finance Director

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Evaluation Summary

2.                     Online Survey Results

3.                     Community Workshop Notes

4.                     Roundabout Concept

5.                     Bus Turn Templates

6.                     Truck Turn Templates

7.                     Fire Truck Turn Templates

 

cc:                     Dirk Brazil, Interim City Manager

Erin Smith, Public Works Director