With the increasing amount of construction happening in the Rainey Street District, I think we have seen the last of the Google Villages and such taking the neighborhood over – at least for a while.
I’m going to lay out a summary of the transportation plan here first, then drop my two cents in the bucket on the drama surrounding it.
What to expect
City staff have settled on maintaining two-way traffic on the street, and adding sidewalks where there is not existing development taking place. The east side of the street will retain on-street, metered parking, while the west side (on the right side if you are facing the river) will be converted into a striped area with pedicab pick-ups and bike parking.
Once the sidewalks are built out, the city may move forward with converting that striped area into bike lanes.
The city will convert the turning circle into a “modern roundabout” – like this one at Rio Grande and 10th Street. The city also plans to install speed humps (not speed bumps) and up the ante on the navigational signs in and around the area.
As an example of neighborhood vs. city, the first herculean effort I recall was getting a single stop sign installed at Red River and Davis. The City said they had the data and we really didn’t need the stop sign. I recall being told there was some law that would not permit installing a stop sign (wtf?). Fortunately, persistence from the Rainey Neighbors’ Association (RNA), specifically from a spunky Rainey neighbor, Phyllis Fletcher, was persuasive enough for City staff came around. I use that as an example of head banging frustration at the process of what we citizens would hope and expect to be simple. Anyhow…
Not long ago, the city – especially the transportation department – jumped the gun when they basically told the residents they planned to make Rainey Street a one-lane, one-way road.
Despite a lot of people’s initial reaction – including my own – that the one-way plan was being ram-rodded through City Hall, I’m pleased that the city and the neighborhood were able to meet in the middle.
Lets Hug It Out
It is easy, sometimes, to view folks inside the city as coming up with their own “plans” for how our city should look and forgetting they are public servants. While City staff are experts in their own right, and have software like autoCAD, it is a different perspective than being someone on the street everyday: living and working in a neighborhood.
Effective planning is tedious, and requires the former and latter to come together. Laws and ordinances often have no flexibility. It’s when City staff and neighbors come together, and everyone really listens, the likelihood of success is highest. Which is exactly what happened here.