Renderings of the new design show more rounder bumpouts than the earlier versions. -- Bolton & Menck Inc.

Archived Story

Bumpouts modified for snowplows

Published 5:00pm Thursday, November 22, 2012

City officials have revised their plans for bumpouts to be part of the proposed $4 million Albert Lea downtown reconstruction.

The new plans call for bumpouts that are more broad and sweeping in their curves, rather than a design that appeared to have them jut out more directly into the street.

Also, the bumpouts will have dropped curbs, instead of standard curbs. Dropped curbs provide a more gradual increase to the sidewalk than a normal curb, much like a ramp.

The information was shared Monday at an informational session at Albert Lea City Hall. Project designers with Mankato-based Bolton & Menck Inc. made the presentation to members of the public.

Reconstruction plans call for an amphitheater that doubles as a staircase at the end of Broadway in Fountain Lake Park, designed to make it easier for people of all ages and means to enter the park. -- Bolton & Menck Inc.

The dropped, rounded-off curves will make plowing snow around the bumpouts easier, said James Harbaugh with Bolton & Menck.

“That snowplow is not going catch a curb coming up and back down that ramp,” Harbaugh said.

City officials have revised their plans for bumpouts to be part of the proposed $4 million Albert Lea downtown reconstruction.

The new plans call for bumpouts that are more broad and sweeping in their curves, rather than a design that appeared to have them jut out more directly into the street.

Also, the bumpouts will have dropped curbs, instead of standard curbs. Dropped curbs provide a more gradual increase to the sidewalk than a normal curb, much like a ramp.

The information was shared Monday at an informational session at Albert Lea City Hall. Project designers with Mankato-based Bolton & Menck Inc. made the presentation to members of the public.

The dropped, rounded-off curves will make plowing snow around the bumpouts easier, said James Harbaugh with Bolton & Menck.

“That snowplow is not going catch a curb coming up and back down that ramp,” Harbaugh said.

Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke said city workers who drove the snowplows have looked at the revised plans and said they should be easier to maneuver around.

Having snowplows go around bumpouts indeed will be more difficult than the existing corners, Jahnke said. However, the revised plans will lessen the need for snow sweepers to finish removing snow, as happens in some cities with bumpouts.

“We’ve pretty much done what we could to minimize the problem,” he said.

The bumpouts are being proposed as an alternative to having stoplights. A Bolton & Menck study found the bumpouts to be safer in downtown Albert Lea than stoplights because of reduced automobile speeds and increased driver attentiveness.

Bumpouts with stop signs also are a cost savings compared to stoplights. Modern stoplights, which must conform to Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, would have cost about $200,000 per intersection. With stoplights on Broadway at Clark Street and William Street, the total would have been $400,000.

Bumpouts would have no additional cost compared to having no bumpouts at all, Jahnke said.

“Whether putting concrete in the street or in the sidewalk, the costs are fairly close, so the difference in cost is that signal,” he said.

A bumpout is an extension of the sidewalk into the street, reducing the distance pedestrians need to cross. They do not impact the number of parking spaces available downtown, as they go in the existing space right-turning drivers use to swoop alongside motorists headed straight.

The streetscape work has an estimated price tag of $4.08 million, of which $1 million is coming from state bonding, $1.5 from sewer and water fund, $800,000 assessed to downtown property owners and $800,000 from city bonding.

The City Council is slated to meet about the designs at 7 p.m. Monday.

If the project moves forward according to plan, the city will bid and award the contract in February or March with construction to begin in April or May.

Project calls for reconstruction of the street, utilities and sidewalks of Broadway from Main Street to Fountain Street, along with other decorative elements such as street lighting, proposed plazas, bumpouts and a redevelopment of Fountain Lake Park.

The project is being proposed because of the age of the underground utilities and street. The existing sanitary sewer, watermain and storm sewer systems in Broadway are more than 80 years old and in need of replacement. The existing street was originally constructed in 1933 out of concrete and has been overlaid with blacktop in 1956, 1975 and 2002, according to city staff.

The redevelopment of Fountain Lake Park will include a grand staircase that doubles as an amphitheater at the end of Broadway, then a sidewalk down to the overlook by the water. The route to get vehicles into park will be modified to be more convenient than it presently is, the plans say.

Using pavers, crosswalks across Fountain Street to Fountain Lake Park are designed to be more noticeable and, hence, safer. The same crosswalk work is being planned for other Broadway crossings, such as the often-confusing crossing presently near Water Street.