Baker City Councilor Lynette Perry took to Facebook this week to survey her constituents about the possibility of restriping 10th Street from its 4-lane configuration, with no center turn lane, to 3 lanes, with one travel lane in each direction and a center turn lane.
That’s the striping scheme that’s been in place on Campbell Street, from Main to Birch, since 1997.
Perry’s two posts on the subject have solicited more than 70 comments since Monday. The vast majority of posters want to keep 10th Street as it is.
Facebook is hardly a scientific survey, of course. But it is an effective way for an elected official to get a sense of public sentiment — almost certainly more effective than relying on people to attend a City Council meeting.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has proposed to change to 3-lane striping on 10th Street between Broadway and Pocahontas, and possibly on Broadway from Main to 10th. But the decision is ultimately up to the City Council, hence Perry’s posts.
Traffic engineers generally prefer the 3-lane setup because it’s been proved effective at reducing crashes — in particular rear-end collisions that happen on 4-lane streets when a driver has to stop, in the left travel lane, to make a left turn. According to ODOT data, in the five years after Campbell was restriped the number of crashes on that section dropped by 15%.
In 2013 a consulting firm the city hired to update its transportation plan suggested restriping both 10th and Broadway streets to 3 lanes. The firm’s report noted that making that change tends to reduce average speeds, and it creates room for bicycle lanes.
The response to Perry’s Facebook posts is compelling evidence that Baker City residents prefer the current 4-lane configuration on those two streets. It certainly gives Perry and her fellow councilors something to consider when they take up the issue next year.
Staying with 4 lanes is reasonable, considering there hasn’t been an abnormal rash of crashes on either street that can be attributed to the striping. Moreover, traffic volumes on 10th and Broadway are about half, roughly 5,000 vehicles on average per day, the volume on the 3-lane stretch of Campbell.
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor