Calm yourselves and the traffic, too
By Editorial Board
In recent months, the Crafton Boulevard Streetscape Project has been a hot-button topic. The more members of council try to address public concerns, the more the debate spirals out of control.
Fire Chief Mike Crown raised what seems to be legitimate concerns of safety regarding the project at the council’s May 12 meeting. Crown stated that he was concerned the curb extensions or bumpouts in the project would prohibit firetrucks from reaching important areas of Crafton, including the alley behind the Crafton Elementary School.
Since then, other residents have come out of the woodwork to oppose the partially completed project, especially to complain about the bumpouts. While public input on projects that directly affect them is needed and important, these criticisms are misguided and the timing is completely inappropriate.
The idea for this project began in September 2020 based on public comments about the unsafe conditions of Crafton Boulevard. Since then, there have been multiple public opportunities for citizens to address their concerns before construction began in June 2021. At the time, it seems there was little to no opposition to these proposed ideas.
However, now that the bumpouts are being constructed, making the landscape and driving experience different, some residents are starting to feel the effect of this change.
At the June 23 meeting, residents in opposition of the project said that it made driving more frustrating and that it made it slightly harder for some to pull into their driveways. One resident even went as far as to say that safety should never be the top priority of a project as it is an unrealistic expectation.
While it’s understandable to be frustrated by lengthy construction and alterations to a road that has been mostly unchanged for decades, these arguments against the project are callous and show little regard for the safety of fellow residents.
Of course, pedestrian experience and the public’s safety are important and valid reasons to do this project. To suggest otherwise is counter to the notion of a public street, which should be designed to serve all of the public.
At the June 23 meeting, perhaps as a way to quell the public’s fears, Crafton council decided to have Gateway Engineers present facts on the project, including presenting a timeline of events, engineering models, landscape designs and safety standards that have been applied. Some residents in support also noted that positive effects of the construction can already be seen, such as traffic calming.
Despite the efforts of council and Gateway to explain the positive impacts of this project, it is obvious their patience is wearing thin as residents make the same comments repeatedly.
As for Crown’s concerns, yes it may be more difficult to maneuver and this could hypothetically pose some issue in the future, but with that being said, progress requires taking a chance and looking at the facts.
Mayor Coletta Perry has proposed that the fire department take an alternative route than what was proposed by Crown, making it much easier to reach the rear of the school. Additionally, the engineers have presented a model showing that firetrucks can maneuver around Crafton Boulevard.
Whether to placate Crown or to truly investigate his proposals to redesign a bump-out near Vance Alley and lower the sidewalk near Bradford Court, council passed a motion at its most recent meeting to have Gateway Engineers look into these ideas and report back recommendations and costs before July 7.
It seems that Crown’s concerns are coming from an authentic place, despite him being accused by fellow resident Cody Sheets of using safety concerns as bait for another agenda. All that can be said for sure is that Crown’s concerns would have been helpful if they had been brought to the attention of the council in advance of the completed construction of the bumpouts, but what is past is past.
As for other residents, it might be a good time to start becoming accustomed to bumpouts. Sometimes positive change is initially uncomfortable.
It’s new and strange, and those things scare people, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing.
Unless pride gets in the way, we anticipate that the rumblings about Crafton Boulevard will slowly fade into the background once some residents become used to what is now underway.
No one knows what the results of the engineers looking into this will be, but we believe it will be more of the same.
Yes, these changes could be made, but the engineers don’t believe there are any benefits to them.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if they continue to point to the idea that curbs can always be driven over.
With that said, if everyone resolves to work toward the goal of safety, checking their egos at the door, hopefully, the best solution will win out.