Davis Street/South Main Street Intersection

In my previous post, Culver needs an Infrastructure Czar, I discussed whether The Dunes development was an opportunity to improve the Davis Street/South Main Street intersection in Culver. I flippantly said there must be at least 6 options for improving that intersection, while offering a round-about as one of them. I decided to make that a creative challenge to myself and sketched up a few additional options here with some thoughts to go along with them.

Crude round-about sketch

The original sketch of a round-about remains an interesting solution. Considering the increased traffic from The Dunes, this might be a way of calming that traffic. It also provides a better way to access the dunes rather than dumping all of those vehicles out onto the narrow street that is South Main at an offset intersection to Tampa Street. (Not only is the offset from Tampa problematic, the adjacent drive for Garden Court that runs parallel to the new street will be problematic as well.)

As stated before, this improves existing intersection issues and preserves the proposed developer units. While this doesn’t eliminate the S-curve as South Main Street transitions through Davis Street, it does lengthen it. That would make it a little safer. It brings South Ohio Street in with a cleaner connection as well. It may also encourage some of the boat trailer traffic to find alternate routes rather than coming through the downtown area.

This does take a fair amount of buffer property away from The Dunes, but the traffic calming should be a reasonable trade-off.

Option #1 – Broaden South Main S-curve

The first additional option strictly reworks Ohio/Davis/Main without any changes to The Dunes layout or proposed street connection. The main advantage to this revision is further stretching out the Main Street S-curve as it transitions though Davis Street. Davis Street would still connect on the west curve, but it’s a broader curve with better site distance. If some additional right-of-way (ROW) could be purchased from 535 South Main Street to broaden that curve too, then all the better.

This again cuts into the buffer area for The Dunes, but would not affect their marketable area. The benefit to the Town would be significant.

Option #2 Doesn’t improve the S-curve, but it does eliminate the west connection between Davis Street and South Main Street. This brings South Ohio Street further south and connects into South Main Street south of the S-curve. This would provide a cleaner intersection.

Option #2 – Extend South Ohio Street

The pavement for Davis Street from South Main Street could be removed, but the ROW would need to remain for the water, sewer and storm lines that pass through there. This issue will be the same on any realignment of South Main Street. There may need to be enlarged ROW to accommodate the existing utilities, but the pavement could be removed and the areas could be landscaped. There would be private utilities, such as electric, gas, phone & cable to consider as well.

Again, if some additional right-of-way (ROW) could be purchased from 535 South Main Street to broaden that curve as shown in the previous option, then the S-curve could be improved as well.

Option #3 – Extend South Ohio Street to Prado Street

Option #3 is basically Option #2 repeated, but with the extension of South Ohio Street further south, so as it is returned to connect to Main Street, it lines up with Prado Street. It is generally good practice to align intersections, but as seen throughout Culver, good practice wasn’t always followed in the past. The same comment as above regarding obtaining ROW from 535 South Main Street applies.

This option is more onerous for the developer of The Dunes, as it severely reduces the buffer they have established between the development and the streets.

The other piece of interest here is the possibility of creating a pocket park here. This has been a Comprehensive Plan goal in the last two Comp Plans and has come up as the current plan is being reviewed. This could tie into future plans the Town has for 530 South Ohio Street, the demolished restaurant site on the corner of Ohio & Davis. This would increase their options on that site.

Option #4 – Purchase 535 South Main Street

Option #4 contemplates the Town purchasing 535 South Main Street. This would allow a complete rework and softening of the South Main Street S-curve and would roll additional Town-owned property into 530 South Ohio Street increasing options. (The same curve improvement could be accomplished by purchasing 604 South Main Street, but I would perceive this as less beneficial and more disruptive. Plus it does not provide the benefit of expanding the Town’s existing property at 530 South Ohio Street.)

This could be done as part of any of the options listed above with much the same benefits. Softening that curve would make that intersection much safer and if combined with the round-about option or Option #1, it would vastly improve the traffic flow and safety in this area.

The connection to Davis Street is somewhat problematic in this option, but could be helped by narrowing Davis Street and making it one way east from South Main Street to Obispo Street. This would change traffic patterns as Davis is feeder street, but it would only directly affect three homes with driveways on this section. This would allow for additional green space between the street and trail for this section as well. This would be similar to the recent change of East Washington Street to One-Way.

Option #5, the 6th and final option in this exercise, is to just toss in 4 stops signs and put the brakes on South Main Street. While this is the least effective in any attempt to improve traffic flow, it would be the most economical and provide added safety. For those of you that say changing the existing pattern would lead to accidents, this decision was made a number of years ago at the transition from North Main Street to Lake Shore Drive. It’s not particularly ancient history when North Main Street did not have a stop sign and just “curved” into Lake Shore Drive, while Lake Shore Drive did not have a stop sign for west bound traffic at that intersection. Never an issue for locals, this peculiar pattern lead to a couple of fender benders for out-of-towners, prompting the full stop requirement for the connection of the two main drags…

The point of this exercise, as a continuation of my last post, is that there are always options that should be considered. And along with the options, there should be every effort made to discern the potential unintended consequences. This is often not best handled locally, but better done with the assistance of professionals in their respective fields.

Edit 11-15-22: Oops! It was pointed out to me that the round-about concept appeared on page 97 of the current comprehensive plan! Geez, as many times as I’ve been through that plan, you’d think I would have remembered it! (see right) This is a more elegant drawing and shows some of the benefit I suggested. It is also suggesting that the eastern curve be abandoned in favor of a three-way stop intersection with crosswalks. This was suggested before development of The Dunes property was considered, so it does not show the forth round-about connection for that street which I still think would be prudent.

Alternatively, the comp plan suggests straightening Davis Street and creating two distinct T-intersections with three-way stops in lieu of the S-curves.

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