The city took another step in the transformation of Broad Street with a community meeting last week to gain public input on the project. Held at the James Seals Community Center, the meeting allowed residents to provide input on the $21.3 million project on everything from the shape of the proposed tree grates to the style of crosswalks and medians to be used.
The majority of the project will be paid for with a $14.4 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The funds will be used for all project phases, city spokeswoman Laura Byrne wrote in an email message, including repaving.
The Alabama Department of Transportation and the city of Mobile also will be contributing $3.5 million and $3.3 million, respectively. The ALDOT funding will be used for a portion of the paving cost, Byrne wrote, while the city will also be on the hook for a portion of the paving.
“The project will entail roadway reconstruction, including pavement removal and replacement in some areas and milling and overlay in others,” she wrote.
The project includes a reduction of lanes, or diet, from six lanes to four and the addition of landscaping, as well as room for pedestrian and bike lanes. Several “gateways” are planned along the project area. Those plans have not changed from the original proposal, Byrne wrote.
“The project is still in the development phase but the number of gateways have not changed at this time,” she wrote. “Beautification efforts remain a goal of the project.”
The plan also calls for more WAVE bus stops, turn lanes and utility updates.
The first phase begins on Beauregard Street from Water to Congress streets. The second phase starts on Broad Street and stretches from Congress to Canal streets. The third phase continues on Broad Street from Canal to Baker streets. The fourth and final phase will connect Broad Street to the Three Mile Creek Greenway via Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.
“Once completed, we will provide safe, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly access, beautify the streetscape and stimulate economic activity throughout Mobile,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in a statement. “This project will connect citizens from the transportation hub on Water Street to homes in neighborhoods to jobs at Brookley Aeroplex to recreation on the Three Mile Creek Greenway.”
Mobile was chosen for the grant in 2016 after two previous failed attempts. The city received the award for Broad Street and portions of Beauregard Street and MLK Avenue because of the roadways’ proximity to the Brookley Aeroplex.
A consultant group pointed out the need for a lane reduction along Broad more than a year ago. Traffic engineers from the Toole Design Group made the recommendations after spending a week in Mobile as part of a multimodal study paid for by the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The group used average daily traffic figures to argue for fewer lanes on most downtown streets, except for Government Street from Broad to the Bankhead Tunnel. With roughly 12,000 to 17,000 vehicles per day, Broad Street was a good candidate for a lane reduction. The consultants said ideally one lane from each side of Broad could be converted into bike or pedestrian lanes.