The restriping on 13th Street is nearing completion. Hays Public Works told Hays Post that a few final areas of striping and some repair work have to be completed, and the traffic lights at the intersections of 13th & Vine and 13th & Canterbury need to be updated. The goal is to have all road work finished today and the traffic lights updated tomorrow, weather permitting.
In response to a deluge of questions and feedback, the City of Hays has posted a “13th Street Frequently Asked Questions” tab on their website. 13th Street changed from 2 driving lanes in each direction to one car lane and one bike lane in each direction and a center turning lane. The change is referred to as a “road diet” on the website. The city’s FAQs are listed below.
Mayor Kent Steward had a plea for Hays residents regarding the changes to 13th Street during his closing comments at the City Commission Meeting last Thursday.
FAQs from HaysUSA.com
Why has 13th Street changed?
13th street had excess capacity and allowed vehicles to travel at higher speeds. Reconstruction allowed for a traffic design change, called a Road Diet. This conversion matches 13th at Milner and provides constant flow throughout 13th street. Not all arterials are candidates for road diets but 13th street contained characteristics suitable for this conversion.
What is a road diet?
A road diet is a lane reduction. The 13th street reconfiguration reduces the street from four lanes to three lanes. Specifically the lanes are condensed from two in each direction to one travel lane in each direction. A left turning lane in the center and bicycle lanes are included. See the diagram noted above.
What are the advantages of a road diet?
A road diet improves vehicular, pedestrian, and bicyclist’s safety. Decreasing the number of lanes reduces the ability to jockey for position and creates a more uniform speed. Traffic flow is more efficient with a designated left turning lane. Road diets are generally successful on roads that carry fewer than 19,000 vehicles per day.
Are there national studies or best management practices that prove road diets are safer?
The Federal Highway Administration claims the addition of road diets and other uses such as bike lanes makes streets safer and can reduce accidents by as much as 29%. Reducing vehicular space on the road creates a calming effect which slows traffic and increases safety by giving motorists and bicyclists segregated lanes. As streets are consumed with various transportation uses, the available space for travel is safely reduced which ultimately slows traffic.
What are the disadvantages of a road diet?
The original four‐lane configuration allowed faster speeds with excess capacity.
Are there similar streets in Hays?
A lane conversion occurred on 27th street from Hall to Willow. This street realizes 11,000 vehicles a day.
Hall Street from 27th to 13th has a similar configuration and has 8,500 vehicles a day.
The section of 13th from Vine to Canterbury has 9,000 vehicles a day.
Why bike lanes now?
The lane reduction allows space for bike lanes. The mobilization of the 13th Street contractor granted an opportunity to construct the lanes. They connect east neighborhoods/commercial districts to the vine and downtown areas. The lanes are an essential part of the Bike Hays system.
Where does the need/desire for a bike system come from?
Since the 1990’s there has been a recorded community desire for a bicycle system. The 1996 Community Strategic Plan, developed by a public process, identifies many quality of life goals. A specific objective was the development of hike and bike trails throughout much of Hays. The construction of a bike system never came to fruition.
In the 2000’s a 32‐mile multipurpose concrete path system was proposed and estimated to cost $11 million or $350,000 a mile. The plan never came to fruition because of the cost.
In 2011 over a hundred citizens submitted signed petitions requesting a bike lane system throughout Hays.
The 2012 comprehensive plan process had approximately 35 public meetings with hundreds of participants representing multiple interests. There was an overwhelming desire for a bike system to improve the quality of life with secondary economic and health benefits.
Why bicycle lanes instead of bike paths?
Bicycle lanes utilize current infrastructure with limited investment. An on street system is a fraction of the cost of a separate multipurpose path system.
On average a mile of multipurpose bike paths costs $350,000.
On average a mile of bicycle lanes costs $20,000 or less
What is the Hays Bike Plan?
The proposed Bike Hays plan will utilize current street infrastructure to construct 26.5 miles of bike facilities. Bicycle lanes will comprise 25 miles and 1.5 miles will be a levy multipurpose path trail segment. The project construction is estimated at $811,000.
Where do the funds come from to pay for this project?
The city budgeted $400,000 for this project. A majority of the funds come from a special alcohol tax. These funds can only be used for quality of life amenities and generated by alcohol consumed in Hays. No SALES TAX and No PROPERTY TAXES are proposed for the initial construction of the system. Transportation Enhancement funds were awarded to assist with the remaining construction costs.
What is the intent of the Bike Plan system?
Currently there are no designated routes in Hays. Streets with segregated or defined routes are safer for vehicles and bicycles. The proposed system connects nearly every park, neighborhood, school, and commercial district with a safe designated route for a fraction of the cost of a multipurpose path system. Bike lanes offer an alternative healthy mode of transportation for our community.
What organizations support the Bike Plan?
There are many community organizations who have endorsed the City’s Bike Hays plan. These include City of Hays, USD 489, Ellis County, Fort Hays State University, Hays Area Children Center, Hays Med, and Hays Recreation Commission.