A transportation consulting firm has been exploring ideas that could make Military Avenue safer for motorists, cyclists and walkers, as well as ways to help trucks avoid downtown Fremont.
Jason Carbee, senior transportation planner for HDR in Omaha, spoke with attendees at an open house Monday night to learn about a draft of Fremont’s comprehensive city plan.
The event took place at the Fremont City Auditorium.
Carbee worked on the long-distance transportation portion of the city’s overall plan.
HDR collected ideas from the public, as well as collected data, for a 20 or 25 year transportation plan.
One idea would be to reduce Military Avenue from Broad to Bell streets.
Instead of two lanes in each direction, the military would be reduced to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane.
This could allow for bike lanes on Military or, depending on the width of the roadway, for on-street parking if a section is wide enough. Or the sidewalks could be turned into a wider path or path.
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This narrowing – also known as the Road Diet – should help increase safety in a number of ways.
On the one hand, left-turning traffic would be separated from through traffic with the turning lane.
“There shouldn’t be a lot of associated congestion,” Carbee added.
The narrowing of the road could slow down traffic in the residential area and make it easier to cross the street.
“Right now, it’s very difficult to go from the north side of Military in downtown to the south side and vice versa,” said Jennifer Dam, the city’s planning director.
Residents expressed a desire to cycle and walk safely in the city.
“We have a lot of people who have asked us for more cycling facilities and areas where they can walk better – to be able to cross Military Avenue, to be able to have more sidewalks and more trails in areas so that it is easier to get around if you don’t have a car,” Dam said.
Carbee said Fremont has good trails around the edges of town, but people shared ideas for trail connections across town.
Other ideas were considered.
Carbee said First Street could be narrowed at targeted locations to slow down traffic from Bell Street to Luther Road.
“It’s kind of a wide-open residential street and the very wide street encourages people to speed up,” he said.
In some places where there is a crosswalk, the curbs could be pushed back a bit to narrow the street and make the crosswalk safer.
Carbee also said the new southeast bypass provides the opportunity to construct truck routes to divert truck traffic out of downtown.
“We’re trying to find ways to get all that truck traffic out of downtown and out to the southeast ring road,” he said.
A truck route could be constructed on South Main Street and Cloverly Road to the new bypass.
“Then we could look at turning downtown streets back two-way (instead of one-way),” Carbee said, adding, “We have to do these things in stages.”
Carbee notes that road traffic and freight are significant.
“We have to make sure they have a good route,” Carbee said.
Dam said the overall plan is expected to be put forward for approval by the Fremont City Council in September and the UDC in November or December.