May 242011
 

By Andrew Brott

Upon further review of the Freret streetscape plans, the longer they take the better.

As best as I and many others can tell, they plan to narrow Freret Street with 42-foot-long street “bump-outs” similar to those on Oak Street. This is a horrible idea that must be stopped.

These bump-outs look great on paper, but Freret Street has city buses (Oak Street does not) that will now be forced to stop in the middle of the street. We also have multiple businesses that rely on large cargo trucks for delivery of goods for resale. Where and how will these now park and unload? Side streets will no longer be an option as those same bump-outs will now make those intersections too narrow for any large truck to turn.

I know these plans were written by people with great intentions and architects who were paid under Nagin, but Freret Street’s 180 days of “Disneyfication” will also force it to lose 32 full time LEGAL parking spaces.

Still not a big deal?

Take a look at the concrete landing pads at each bus stop. These are needed to prevent street damage from heavy vehicle use, i.e., city buses coming to a stop. I wonder how long a cobblestone, asphalt-topped Freret Street will last? Just take a look at the ruts on the road surface by existing bus stops, then multiply it by another 6+ years of promises and 180+? days of construction to get new concrete pads at each intersection.

Oak Street narrows to 20 feet at its bump-outs (Freret?), I just hope I’m not on a bus or a bike when two buses/trucks pass each other in an intersection. The section of Oak Street with these bump-out is also a straight (non-crescent) section of roadway, while Freret bends.

I could go on, but will leave with one last observation of their plans. How will anyone be able to get on and off city buses using Oak Street-style ADA ramps on Freret? My best guess is they will have to go in front of the city bus to and from the sidewalk (block oncoming side street traffic?), or the driver could pull into oncoming lane of traffic to leave a path for wheelchair.

Like I said at the start of this rant, these “bump-outs” are a horrible idea that must be stopped, and am waiting for somebody to prove me wrong. We could go ask Robert Mendoza to address these same questions/concerns but…

Let’s just hope they don’t start work anytime soon.

Andrew Brott of BrottWorks glass studio lives and works on Freret Street.

  20 Responses to “Letter to the editor: Don’t bump out Freret”

  1. i’m not sure what these “bump outs” are exactly (in spite of being very familiar with Oak St)…but Freret already gets pretty narrow when busses are going by…especially with all the giant SUVs parked on both sides of the road…and now that i mention it Oak barely seems wide enough for two-way traffic with all the badly parked cars all over it…

    • I am also unclear what exactly these “bump outs” are. Could we get a photo of what they look like on Oak St.?

  2. We should just widen Freret so it is 3 lanes going each way then knock down a few buildings for parking lots. That way, there will never be any traffic or any parking issues.
    Ok, I’m being sarcastic. I understand your concerns but the bumpouts on Oak are wonderful & although Freret has come a long way, it needs these improvements to become more walkable, urban, dense & appealing to the eyes. These things are important. Think Magazine St vs. Veterans Blvd as the extremes.
    Concerning buses, the city should be buying smaller buses instead of the monstronsities it has now. That would cure that problem.
    New Orleans should be more walkable, bikable, & more boutique. That’s our niche. We should never choose an 18 wheeler or a bus over a pedestrian or we’ll be Houston in no time.

  3. Bring on the Bumpouts. Pedestrian friendly activity is key to this corridor in my opinion. Hopefully, any delivery concerns can be dealt with in the new schematic.

  4. The Bump-outs will be an absolute disaster. Sure,,,it sounds nice,,,but this is an extremely impractical idea which will ruin Freret Street. Businesses will have fewer customers due to fewer parking spaces.

  5. Slowing down traffic in our neighborhoods is important, since there’s a 85% fatality rate above 40 mph. http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

    Bump outs help do that. Vehicles go as fast a 100 mph on Freret (no joke) and if there are bump outs it slows people down w/o cops or traffic cameras.

    Design options to slow down traffic are economical, long-term ways to help our neighborhoods and communities thrive as a place for people instead of as a place for vehicle drivers to do whatever they want.

    I, for one, am all for redesign for slower, calmer and neighhorhood friendly traffic on Freret.

    • The two new traffic cameras are welcome on the Freret corridor! They slow the traffic down to 25mph and also act as crime cameras recording criminal activity on the corridor and in the surrounding neighborhood. The quality of life for the neighborhood is key. I live on Freret and have noticed a significant drop in the speeds.

      When Freret becomes a thriving commercial corridor (just around the corner) people will want to live in this area and we want to be sensitive to parking as it impacts many. I walk to work daily, however we still own 1 car, that is just a reality, as it is our escape vehicle for hurricane season. Biking to Memphis with the dog + 2 cats does not sound like fun.

      In order for the neighborhood to thrive and be pedestrian friendly, the commercial commerce needs to continue to operate and that does mean deliveries via large trucks (and they are semi size).

      I think some compromise and working with the contractor will be key in this situation for Freret.

  6. As odd as it might sound, I think Freret could use bump outs… but only on the lake side of the street. Because of the curve, it is a real hazard to pull on to Freret from the north when people are parked too close to the curb. Put the bump outs on one side only and you get the best of both worlds (sort of)

  7. I couldn’t disagree more. Bring on the bump-outs.

    As for how to integrate buses with bump-outs, the bump-out should actually ease issues with bus stops, as the bus will not have to pull over to the curb. (The curb will come to the bus!) This should speed up boarding and exiting and improve on-time performance.

    The less parking spaces, the better. Businesses don’t need parking spaces to thrive. Slower auto traffic, wider sidewalks, more bike parking, and a safer pedestrian environment will help the corridor more than wasted space for idle cars.

    • Remember, it’s about moving people to businesses, not about moving single-occupancy vehicles to businesses.

  8. Not the best at posting by I made this page go to:
    http://www.glassartists.org/Gal157853_The_politics_of_post-k_recovery_on_Freret_Street_Uptown_New_Orleans.asp
    where i put pictures of Oak Streets Bump-outs.

    Like I said-
    At first glance these bump seem great, then reality hits…
    Look at my Oak Street Pictures- I fear for any bus or bike rider forced into these narrowed intersections with two buses/trucks passing each in opposite directions.
    I hope these City Planners are well insured, as NOLA taxpayers should not be held liable when the inevitable occurs…
    I live and work on Freret, and want it more pedestrian friendly but at what price?
    They are taking out our concrete bus pads and replacing them with these same bump-outs.
    These pads not only protect the street, but also the infrastructure below. Thus far City leaders have addressed this major design flaw by saying “city buses never pull over anyway, so it’s a non issue”…
    This is not true, i.e. the deep ruts in the road surface where buses/tucks run/stop-
    Then think what will happen with slowed street traffic (extra weight) to the pipes and sewer lines below without a concrete bus pad. $?…
    Every day this vital commercial thoroughfare (18,000 vehicles a day) is closed, businesses loose money, and now our City planners want us suffer 180 days of construction, and then go through the same or worse later when they come back to fix they broke. Empty promises can’t fix a broken 100 year old water main, but annual patches of asphalt with the word “temporary” painted on it still cost $….
    You break we buy it?
    Will Freretian small businesses eligible for SBA Federal Disaster Recovery Loans under the Submerged Roads Program from problems the City causes? Or are these bump-outs the last trickle down on us from failed Naginomics and poor urban planning.

    And lets say all of mine and many others arguments against the bump-out + loss of parking are wrong.
    We still don’t get any new trash cans, benches and bike racks…
    Then it’s 180 days to the bump-outs, then they return later to fix the road?
    It’s like ripping up a street to fix the sewer, repaving it, then returning a year later to fix the water main.
    Why can’t it all be done at once?
    + l of this is scheduled to go on as we have 10+ new businesses scheduled to open in the next year.
    I respect all of your opinions, but I still think this entire plan needs to be revisited ASAP!!!!

    • You are absolutely right about the scheduling sewer and road work, that’s enough to make anyone batty. In fact, just the other day, SW&B was cutting newly repaved Orleans as well as newly repaved Nashville – they need to coordinate better on that front.

      However – all of the issues you bring up about bump outs are actually very common arguments whenever parking spaces are taken away. The fact of the matter is that when you create more pedestrian and bike friendly space (slow traffic speeds are key here) you get customers that come back more frequently and thus spend more. There have been recent studies in Toronto, San Francisco and NYC about this economic phenomenon.

      Also – you’re right about the timing – local businesses do suffer during construction, as we saw on Oak St, however, afterward they do MUCH better. Incentivizing the contractor with bonuses for speed and quality, as well as planning the reconstruction timing with the community are critical, but we shouldn’t be kept hostage for creating the city we want because business owners want to keep “business as usual.”

  9. Umm, Freret Street is too narrow as it is currently designed to handle two lanes of traffic, and two “lanes” of parking, bus stops, and loading. I try not to bike on Freret right now because of that, and I’ve seen plenty of buses, trucks, and cars have to stop to let each other go by (and this is true of Freret from Napoleon all the way to Calhoun). That means the “bump outs” are going to be a wash: you’ll have the same problems you do now, with a slightly improved streetscape.

    If that’s the choice, I’ll take the bump outs to slow traffic as much as possible. They still won’t solve the problems of streetscaping that area, however. Only removing a lane of traffic or an “lane” of parking will do that.

  10. The perception that less parking will deter people from the corridor is just that: a perception. Has Oak’s desirability waned since its improvements? Um, no. And nor will Freret’s.

    If anything car culture needs discouraging, and that’s what will happen. The bumpouts will slow down traffic and improve pedestrian accessibility. Logistics of delivery systems will always be achieved whatever the obstacle.

    In a world of druthers, do you really want the Domino’s 18 wheeler parking on the sidewalk twice a week? I don’t.

    • If parking is so un-important then why does the City still the require so much of it for new commercial construction?
      Just look at the storm of protest over the new Pilates Studio on Magazine + the complainants of neighbors surrounding Whole foods about parking for examples.
      But before any of you think i’m “pro” car culture – think again.
      Jane Jacobs was and still is my hero!!!!!!
      and i see a healthy city as a walkable one, but it is also an ecosystem that needs to be maintained.
      Sorry to bust the car hatin bubble, but the reality is that customers who use the Paint Store next door and the Hardware store across the street from my home need to park somewhere.
      And we as a City just paid for free parking spaces at Home Depot and Wall Mart through TIFF grants- sure don’t want those poor people who live next to those big box stores to have to deal with all off street parking do we?
      And they are going to take parking away from Fretet?
      +
      No trash cans…
      No Bike racks…
      No Benches…
      +
      all the damage to from no concrete bus pads…
      +
      180 days of construction- then they return later to fix the road…
      How about no bump outs? and the money and resources saved gets used more wisely to help and nurture the small businesses on Freret. Without them we will have no place to walk to…

      • My point further illustrated: http://bit.ly/jmWSHF

      • The city requires all that off-street parking because of misconceptions about new commercial ventures. There are powers working to reduce the off street parking requirements in exchange for more bike racks and considering the ample inventory of on-street parking available in the area.

        Whole Foods – the property values there have skyrocketed, anyone that complains about parking because of the Whole Foods should remember that the property value they gain are significant. Put the Whole Foods in my neighborhood, please.

        • Ditto on that.
          – but can’t make everyone happy- I would love a something like Whole Foods on Freret, but locally owned…

          Jean Paul- many thanks for the video post.
          It proves my point about freight deliveries that small businesses need along on this corridor.
          But please remember that the 180 days of construction INCLUDES NO STREET IMPROVEMENTS!!!!!!
          None, nada, zip, zero…
          It’s for these bump outs and a few street lights only.
          What about the expensive removal of concrete bus pads.
          Road damage?
          + 100 year old water and sewer lines, remember your leak and how long it took to fix?
          They break Freret, we buy it, and when do they return to fix it?
          Don’t know the exact dollar amount, but as one of the City’s 17 economic recovery zones we had been promised 4++ (?) millions of dollars in street improvements, and have yet to even get a lap dance.
          Go here-
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo77FPUUhKA&feature=related
          look at the trash outside of Sojourner Truth. If it were not for the kindness of Sanitation Director Cynthia Sylvain-Lear (THANK YOU!!!), Freret Street would have NO trash cans.
          We now have 3.
          3 all the way from Jefferson to Napoleon- no wonder all that trash ends up outside of Sojourner Truth.
          We get expensive pretty bump outs, and no trash cans bike racks etc:(….

          + As we all work hard (many thanks to NU http://www.freretneighborsunited.com, NHS http://www.nhsnola.org , http://www.freretmarket.com and http://www.thenewfreret.com) to rebirth Freret with 20++ new businesses and many others slated to open soon, this could not happen at a worse time.
          Not that any time is good, but if your going to do it, do it like we were promised and all at once!!!! Not like this…
          Also it’s easy to bitch, but harder to do, so y’all are free to criticize me as I attended the meetings when this was planned and gave a big “YES” to these same bump outs.
          I was wrong.
          Im sorry…
          They are a very BAD, unsafe, and expensive waste City resources that Freret businesses had little to no input in there design and approval, and are now forced to deal with.
          The good news is we are all on the same team, and if we are only going to get $500K now for street scape improvements, and a new road later (Submerged Roads program?) we can all work together and come up with a better plan to make Freret more safe and walkable.
          Please help.
          Best,
          Andy

  11. I live on laurel. And I regularly walk to freret. I used to live on robertson and I still frequent several businesses on freret and the market. It is great to see it getting all this attention, which it desperately needs.

    I do not think the bump outs are well suited for this street. And it’s not a matter of losing parking spaces, it’s a matter of losing space in the road at all. New Orleans is full of narrow, ancient streets and delicate, antiquated infrastructure beneath them.
    I have ridden the Freret bus on many occasions and in fact recommend it to friends and co-workers looking for a more reliable commuter alternative to the St. Charles streetcar. The road is narrow enough as it is. Add to that the fact that deliveries are crucial to any business, whether it’s Dat Dog’s hot dogs or the comic book store’s new issues, they must happen and their suppliers will use trucks. If those trucks cannot park, they will start adding on additional fees to the business. Believe me, there are such a thing. Several suppliers add as much as an additional $100 PER DELIVERY to French Quarter businesses because of the difficulty of navigating, parking and delivering. This fee is waived if you’re a certain size account, but many of these “boutique” businesses we seek to encourage are not. Do we want to bear those costs or starve out the business?

    Add to that the fact that it is absolutely ridiculous to infer that you are encouraging pedestrian and bicycle traffic without supplying so much as a trash can and a bike rack, let alone a bench (have you walked a mile in the summer?). All you are doing is making it difficult to traverse. That’s it. And at great expense.

    And smaller buses? Really? There are smaller buses… they’re called your car. Get back in it and leave me alone. I don’t drive. At all. By choice. There is a car here for evacuations and seriously heavy things I want to take home. But I walk or take the bus. Don’t get me started on the state of the RTA. It is a joke as it is. Next time you’re standing on a packed Magazine bus that’s 45 minutes late because of construction and traffic just trying to get home after a 12 hour shift, you can talk to me about how we need smaller buses. And I can throw you under one. I can walk the 4 miles from my house to work, but in the summer that takes and hour and 20 minutes and I need a shower when I get there. So I take the bus. Which is like mega-carpooling. And when we have new non-gasoline buses, my carbon footprint makes yours look like Bigfoot.

    • Amelia,
      Thank you.
      Don’t forget we also have drainage/road work planned for Jefferson, Napoleon, and Louisiana Avenues planned to happen soon.
      Please go to: http://uptownmessenger.com/2010/10/uptown-gets-preview-of-next-years-drainage-projects/

      I just hope the City is willing to work with business and neighborhood groups to find solutions that won’t put Freret on the back burner again.
      Or we could stop fixing “pot-holes”, call them speed bumps, and slow down traffic on Freret without spending a dime….

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