City sets policy for new pedestrian crossings


City sets policy for new pedestrian crossings

Photo: A mid-block pedestrian crossing located on Cadillac Drive in Brentwood.

By LANDON WOODROOF

The process by which Brentwood residents can request new crosswalks in their neighborhoods and the criteria city staff use to consider those requests was clearly outlined Monday night.

At Monday night’s meeting, the City Commission voted to adopt a mid-block pedestrian crossing policy.

Mid-block pedestrian crossings are defined as crossings that are not located at traffic signals or four-way stops. The city has a few of them, one on Cadillac Drive and another between River Park and the Brentwood Library. However, City Manager Kirk Bednar explained, they and other pedestrian amenities are lacking in older areas of Brentwood.

“We’ve had places around town as you well know especially in some of the older neighborhoods…where sidewalks were not required at the time of development and so they’re not very pedestrian friendly,” Bednar said. “Yet more and more folks would like the opportunity to safely walk or bike to a location.”

In anticipation of more people potentially requesting such crossings, Bednar said it made sense for the city to set a clear policy on their approval.

“Much like we do with stop signs and speed humps, though, we wanted to be sure we had a policy in place where we could objectively assess each location based upon certain safety criteria,” he said.

Criteria the city will take into consideration when presented with a mid-block crossing request includes:

  • the number of pedestrians expected to use the crossing
  • the number of cars expected to travel through the crossing
  • the speed limit in the area and the geometry of the location

The policy also formalizes a process by which residents can request the construction of a mid-block crossing. It states that homeowners associations can request a crossing. In neighborhoods without HOAs, a crossing could be requested by at least 20 percent of homeowners who live within  a 1,000 foot radius of the proposed crossing. This same rule can be applied to crossings in commercial areas.

Once a formal request is made, Bednar said city staff would consult with a traffic engineer to decide if the crossing meets the criteria laid out in the policy. If it did, the city would foot the bill from its capital budget and construct it.

“It would be city funded,” Bednar said. “We would not ask for homeowner participation in this.”

If the cost of a crossing exceeds $10,000, then the city would have to get City Commission approval. Bednar said this could potentially happen if a sidewalk also needed to be constructed with the crossing.

Bednar cautioned that the policy does not necessarily prefigure an explosion in the number of crosswalks that will be built.

“I don’t want to raise the expectations across the city that this is something we will be able to do anywhere because that just won’t be the case,” Bednar said. “But in this policy we’ll have clear criteria to assess those locations.”

One Brentwood parent spoke at the City Commission meeting and provided a clear example of the type of situation the policy was drawn up to address.

Jamie Cobb has children who attend both Brentwood Middle School and Brentwood High School. She also sits on the board of the River Oaks homeowners association.

Cobb explained that last August she helped organize a petition requesting a pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of Granny White Pike and Johnson Chapel Road.

“We hoped to get 150 signatures and ended up getting over 215 signatures in just a short amount of time,” she said. She also noted that this more than meets the 20 percent requirement in the policy up for consideration Monday night.

Cobb said that she felt a new crossing at that intersection was essential.

“I personally would love to see this for the safety of all our residents walking to school, the park and other places,” she said. “If Brentwood truly desires to be a walking community, we must make it safe.”

She urged the commissioners to approve the policy resolution, which they did unanimously.

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