Northland News

Tamarack Circle

Safety concerns fuel frustration with traffic change

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Controversy continues around Tamarack Circle.

Forest Park Civic Association members last week formed a new committee to advocate returning the traffic pattern on one of the main arteries in the neighborhood to the way it was before city officials decided to tinker with it in the wake of a resurfacing project.

The new pattern limits vehicles to the inner lane of the circle. What had been previously used as a travel lane on the outer edge of the circle was marked for parking spaces. A bike lane is between the two.

"The issues remain with safety, first and foremost," Forest Park Civic Association President Mike Stone said. "Also, there's some frustration with backup on the circle.

"People feel very much insecure."

Several representatives of the Public Service Department attended the association's September session in the wake of major complaints about the changes on Tamarack Circle, which were completed without much, if any, prior announcement.

"I really personally appreciate what they did because they came into a situation where people weren't thrilled with what had happened," Stone said. "They were also very candid that they messed up by not talking to the neighborhood, which was appreciated."

What's not been appreciated, though, is that the changes haven't been reversed.

"Our community has had two months to live with the changes," Turner wrote in an email circulated after last week's meeting. "FPCA set up a special email address, circle@fpcivic.org, for residents to offer their opinion about the new traffic pattern. FPCA also set up an online survey to compile statistics about neighborhood sentiment. I will temporarily withhold most of these results to encourage every last person to take the survey ... "

That survey address is surveymonkey.com/s/XKJYLPY.

Stone said later in the week that of 273 responses, only 5 percent favor the altered traffic pattern while 85 percent oppose it. The remaining 10 percent had no real opinion. Of 50 responses to the email address, Stone said only two approved of the reduction in travel lanes.

The survey will stay up through approximately Nov. 10.

Respondents to both the email address and online poll who said they ride bicycles on Tamarack Circle also don't approve of the change, Stone said.

"That kind of surprised me some," he said.

"Opinions about the circle varied widely, but were vastly opposed to the current traffic pattern," Stone wrote in his email. "Safety remains the greatest concern."

All of this led to the meeting where many residents, including both FPCA members and nonmembers, discussed the adjustments they would like to see happen to Tamarack.

As a result, a newly formed committee is advocating Tamarack be returned to a two-lane road with the outside lane being a "sharrow" -- a combined bike and car lane.

In addition, Stone said, residents have asked that crosswalks be added to the streets bordering the circle.

"FPCA will share this opinion with the Northland Community Council, city administrators, City Council members and the mayor's office. To strengthen this request, a petition drive is expected to begin (this) week," he wrote in his email.

 

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