Traffic study supports need for crosswalk on Herschel Street

Traffic study supports need for crosswalk on Herschel Street
While the Florida Department of Transportation was conducting a traffic study along Herschel Street in May, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office installed a monitor to alert motorists to their speed.

Spurred by a fatal accident in early March outside their Herschel Street business, staff at Soluna Yoga+Spa started a petition to make the heavily traveled state road safer for pedestrians by having crosswalks installed.

A motorcyclist traveling south on Herschel Street March 4 had collided with an SUV attempting to turn left (northbound) from Beverly Avenue, which is approximately 250 feet south of Soluna.

Subsequently, a group of concerned business owners and residents felt there was a need for a crosswalk on Herschel between Melrose and Beverly Avenues, and at least one additional crosswalk is needed further down Herschel, possibly between Irvington and Marquette, to cover the entire shopping district.

The group began a petition and collected 465 signatures, which they turned over to the Florida Department of Transportation following an April 25 meeting with FDOT representative Tom Cavin, District 14 Councilman Jim Love, and Riverside Avondale Preservation Board Chair Nancy Powell and Jack Shad, RAP Transportation Committee Chair.

At the meeting, discussion included possible installation of a “bulb-out” at Herschel and Beverly Avenue, which could take three to fourth months. A bulb-out is a curb extension of the sidewalk into a parking lane to provide additional pedestrian space at key intersections.

Following the meeting, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office installed a dynamic speed feedback sign northbound on Herschel at Melrose to alert motorists to their speed in the 30-mph zone.

While the JSO speed indicator was in play, FDOT conducted a three-day study of pedestrian and bicyclist counts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., May 10-12. Three cameras were set up in the approximately 310-foot distance between Beverly and Melrose Avenues.

During the study, FDOT counted 130 pedestrians and three cyclists on Thursday, May 10, as well as 206 pedestrians and four cyclists on Friday, May 11, and 155 pedestrians and five cyclists on Saturday, May 12.

The report released May 25 noted the study area has an annual average daily traffic flow of 10,500 vehicles with a maximum hourly volume of nearly 730 vehicles during the pedestrian peak hour of 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The report also stated the nearest signalized intersection – at St. John’s Avenue – was approximately 500 feet north of the intersection at Melrose Avenue.

“We have completed our midblock crossing study at SR 211 (Herschel Street) between Beverly Avenue and Melrose Avenue. Based on the results of our study, some improvements are recommended in the area, including the installation of a marked crosswalk with a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB),” said Abimael Collazo-Vargas, P.E., Florida Department of Transportation Traffic Services Engineer, in an email. “We will recommend these improvements to be adopted as part of our work program. This process will take some time until the final product is completed.”

The recommendation indicated the crosswalk should be located as close to the existing crossing patterns as possible – near the restaurant Chomp Chomp – and a conceptual layout noted six diagonal parking spaces on the east side of Herschel and two parallel spaces on the west side will be affected.

The crosswalk and beacon installation will be bittersweet for Soluna Yoga+Spa, which plans to relocate the business this fall to 2105 Park St. in 5 Points. “I’m just glad something is going to happen for the neighborhood, it’s been a long time coming,” said Sonya Hanlin, manager at Soluna.

Nine years ago, a man was struck and killed crossing the street after picking up takeout from a former pizza place where Chomp Chomp is now located. In the intervening years, from 2013 to 2017, eight crashes – none of which involved pedestrians or bicyclists – were reported in the area, according to the study, which was conducted by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.

To read the report in its entirety, go to residentnews.net and search for crosswalk.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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