Toward end of a half-century ride celebrating the end of a Plague Year, the Better Burque Tactical Urbanism Team (BBTUT) yesterday passed and admired progress of work on the walking/cycling “notch” of the North Diversion Channel (NDC) at Indian School. There’s still work to do, including the inside railing (as seen above), but it’s getting there.
Talked about, planned, and, at some point (old timers tell us) years back put off as funds went elsewhere, the long-awaited Indian School notch completes the series of such notches making non-motorized travel ever-so-safer under east/west crossing streets for miles and miles of glorious walking/riding. Never again will walkers/cyclists coming to the current crossing have to eyeball/assess that westbound Indian School driver and guesstimate just how much over the speed limit that driver is swinging around the curve toward the crossing. Usually, the assessment has always been: Way the hell over the speed limit.
Some, even a few walking/cycling advocates, have criticized the project for its just north of $2 million price tag, even if some/all of that funding is federal (I looked and can’t find out exactly how much). Given the popularity of the NDC, which averaged, at Indian School, just under 10,000 crossing a month through October 2020, for the $2.1 million spent, I get ~$21.87 per crossing. And that’s just in ten months. Assuming walking/ridership continues at anywhere close to the 2020 pandemic pace (and past years often show similar numbers in the warmer months), we’re talking ~two bucks a crossing in ten years, and down to a dollar per crossing in twenty. And there’s no reason to think: A. That this notch won’t last twenty years; B. That walking/riding figures won’t be help by the fact crossing Indian School at NDC is now much, much safer.
On top of the pure financials, there’s a mindset change that needs to happen in terms of money and walking/cycling roadway improvements, particularly when it comes to the NDC. Namely:
- The NDC’s importance to safe walking/cycling north-south makes it every bit as important as I-25.
- Every. Bit.
- In fact, the NDC is an important component of I-25, and any improvement made for drivers on the Interstate MUST include the NDC as integral to those improvements.
- Yes, these notches at east/west crossings cost money. So what? Future I-25 improvements, both North and South of the Big-I, MUST include funding for any and all walk/bike crossings, including NDC and, I would argue South Diversion Channel Trail.
- These improvements MUST fully integrate with I-25 in any overall planning/engineering, and MUST be a required part of the overall funding for those projects.
- A history of NOT doing this has led to atrocities such as the Gibson crossing of I-25 discussed here last week, as well as embarrassments such as the low-bid Bear Arroyo bike/ped bridge over I-25 ~Academy with its low-bid paving and overall vibe that walkers/cyclists really just don’t deserve nice things.
This non-motorized “poor relative” thinking has gotta stop.
I’m not saying the new NDC notch at Indian School should be lined with 24k carat gold railings, but if the 2014 I-25/Paseo interchange work cost $93 million (with apparently about fourteen dollars and thirty-nine cents spent on its non-motorized user infrastructure), at least a tenth of that should have gone not only to bike/ped improvements on/along the Interstate itself, but to integrated improvements for nearby north/south facilities (e.g., NDC) AND east/west crossings connecting those facilities to others on the other side of I-25 at Paseo.
The Gibson crossing, and other, I-25 atrocities were committed during its initial construction in the early 1960s. The Paseo debacle was perpetrated only a few years ago. These notches on the NDC, finalized at Indian School, are pleasant indications that maybe, just maybe, we’re finally learning from those earlier mistakes.
Enjoy that notch folks. We deserve it.