The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 12, 2013

Vermilion Street to see fewer lanes, landscaped medians

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Breaking up the concrete of Vermilion Street heading south into the downtown area and installing median landscaping, eliminating access drives no longer used off Vermilion for businesses and other improvements for safer pedestrian crossing and traffic flow will make the area more inviting.

This is from Ray Garcia, superintendent of streets and sewers for the city, enthusiastically describing all the proposed plans.

He said on-street parking isn’t needed along the entire stretch on Vermilion south of Fairchild to the downtown area.

The public can view drawings of the proposed plans for resurfacing Vermilion Street, from Fairchild to Harrison streets, at a public meeting on Tuesday.

The public meeting will be from 4:30 p.m. to 5:50 p.m., prior to the city council meeting, and 7:45 p.m. to 9 p.m., after the city council meeting, Tuesday in the downstairs community room at city hall, 17 W. Main St.

Based upon input already received, city officials have come up with Concept Design No. 1 for public consideration and comment.

The concept can be found at http://www.danvillepublicworks.org/vermilion-rehabilitation.html.

Based upon the comments and the observed usage of Vermilion Street, a first overall concept plan has been created for consideration and to be discussed publicly.

Starting from Fairchild and heading south to downtown:

--Fairchild to Davis: four lanes of traffic with two 5-foot shoulders that could be used for bicycles.

--Davis to Williams: changing from four lanes of traffic to three at Williams.

--Williams to Seminary: three lanes of traffic (one center turn lane), two 5-foot shoulders that could be used for bicycles, one parking lane that switches sides to accommodate observed use.

--Seminary to Harrison: two lanes of traffic with a center landscaped median, two 5-foot shoulders that could be used for bicycles and one parking lane on the west side of Vermilion.

--Intersections: Having three lanes of traffic on Vermilion at Williams and Seminary will help improve the turning movements at those intersections by having wider dedicated left turn lanes and wider combination right/through lanes. There is enough room to offset the opposing left turn lanes slightly so that those making left turns can more easily see oncoming traffic.

There also is a new comment form on the webpage for more input on the concept. Comment forms also will be available at the meeting.

Drawings will be displayed and opportunities for questions and answers will be available at the public meeting.

Urban services director David Schnelle said comments already have ranged from do nothing to eliminate all parking and add bike lanes.

Letters were sent to all businesses and properties along the stretch.

Vermilion Street is scheduled for resurfacing this summer between Harrison and Fairchild streets.

“The existing lanes are too narrow to keep it as it is,” Schnelle said.

There are currently four travel lanes with parking allowed on each side. With Vermilion being only 53 feet wide, that creates narrow travel lanes and two full-size vehicles side-by-side have difficulty fitting, especially when there are parked cars, according Schnelle.

Five alternatives were presented to the Public Works committee last year that create wider lane widths.

Alternatives A and B kept four lanes of travel. Alternative A kept parking on one side only and alternative B replaced parking with two bicycle lanes on each side.

Adding bicycle lanes is being considered as part of the MOVE! Danville bicycle lanes project.

Alternatives C, D and E had three travel lanes, two through and one center turn lane. The configuration is similar to Fairchild Street between Jackson and Bowman. Alternatives C, D and E have different variations of parking and bicycle facilities.

Businesses, including those just south of CVS, would be affected with on-street parking being eliminated from Fairchild to Williams streets.

On-street parking will remain from Williams to Harrison.

Schnelle added the resurfacing will fix the rough roadway, where chunks of asphalt have been coming out. The street is becoming too much of a maintenance issue.

Three years ago the Public Works Department improved the approach areas at the CSX Railroad on North Vermilion Street, between Clay and Davis, near Rawhide Meat Co. and the 610 Tap. Asphalt pavement was placed in the approach areas to the railroad tracks.

There also are new handicapped accessible sidewalks near the 610 Tap and Kathryn Randolph Theater. Those sidewalk improvements would continue through the corridor.