Crosswalk safety

City engineer outlines improvements for Third Street crosswalk

Crosswalk improvements are coming to Third Street Southeast near the Ward County buildings downtown.

Minot City Engineer Lance Meyer told the Minot City Council Monday that there may be opportunity to institute some changes next year and make more improvements in coming years.

“We have a multitude of solutions we can apply here and also some grant funding that we are looking at to help pay for some of these improvements,” he said.

Mindy Weisse, a county social services employee who brought concerns about crosswalk safety to the Ward County Commission last month, raised the issue with the council, leading to Meyer’s explanation of potential solutions.

Third Street is a four-lane arterial route with a 30 mph speed limit that carries about 8,400 vehicles a day, Meyer reported. The current 57-foot long crosswalk is marked with road stripes and an overhead, continuously flashing yellow beacon.

Meyer said the plan is to replace the beacon with a rectangular rapid-flash beacon, which has been shown to reduce collisions by 23 to 48 percent.

To improve sight distance for motorists, the plan is to extend a no-parking zone in front of the county buildings from 20 feet to 40 feet and relocate the existing loading and unloading zone farther south. Removing one of the two 20-foot handicapped accessible parking spots also would improve the sight line. Meyer explained the county would lose one 30-minute parking space and one handicapped-accessible space under the proposal.

The city Engineering Department is eyeing a Highway Safety Improvement Program grant that could pay for 90 percent of the cost of improvements, estimated at $27,000.

“If we can get a favorable grant application, we should be able to get that bid here in the spring and constructed sometime in the summer of 2019,” Meyer said.

Another grant program likely to be pursued in 2022 could help fund rehabilitation of Third Street, he said. The plan is for concrete panel replacements on the roadway, followed by smoothing of the road surface. The project would include ornamental lighting to match the downtown and spot curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements.

Reducing the number of lanes from four to two with a third lane for turning can bring a 20 to 50 percent reduction in collisions, Meyer said. In reducing the lanes, bumpouts can be added at the crosswalk to shorten the pedestrian distance from 57 feet to 42 feet.

“That’s about a five-second reduction in travel time, which doesn’t sound like much, but in a traffic engineering world, five seconds is a lot of time,” Meyer said.

A street reduced to three lanes would be able to handle 15,000 to 17,000 vehicles a day, which is well within the 20-year projection for Third Street, he said. However, he added, engineering can’t account for driver error.

“Even with all these improvements in place, there could still be issues in the long term,” he said. “But we feel with some of these improvements implemented over time, this should solve the issues.”