ISU, city team on Lincoln Way safety study

Pedestrians, cars mingle along Lincoln Way

Pedestrians perch on a Lincoln Way median near the intersection with Lynn Avenue. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Ames and university officials hope a joint study will point the way to a safer Lincoln Way. The study, conducted by SRF Consulting, Omaha, Neb., focuses on the "Iowa State" stretch of Lincoln Way that begins just west of the University Boulevard intersection and continues west to the Sheldon Avenue intersection.

Record university enrollment and Campustown revitalization have brought more pedestrians and vehicles to Lincoln Way and, subsequently, more safety concerns, said senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden. The study is intended to identify problems and potential solutions.

Counting cars, median hoppers

As part of the study, Ames city staff are using video cams to collect traffic and pedestrian counts for eight intersections along Lincoln Way and four mid-block crossings. Analysis of the recordings will yield a variety of Lincoln Way statistics, from the number of vehicles and pedestrians passing through intersections to the number of median hoppers who take more precarious routes across the four-lane road.

The cams also record pedestrian behavior at several informal mid-block crossing areas and at intersection lights. For example, they will reveal how many pedestrians typically:

  • Push the crosswalk button and wait for the "walk" sign
  • Push the "walk" button, but don't wait for the "walk" sign
  • Ignore the button altogether and cross when there's an opening

SRF consultants will analyze the Lincoln Way counts, historical data and other Lincoln Way features, such as street lighting, the physical design of intersections, traffic light time cycles and visual obstructions for pedestrians and drivers. The resulting report will document existing conditions and deficiencies along the roadway. Iowa State and Ames will share equally in the costs of the $31,842 study.

University and city officials may opt to enlist SRF Consulting for phase 2 work at a cost of approximately $69,045. In the follow-up study, consultants would help identify the best options for enhancing safety along Lincoln Way and develop cost estimates and plans to carry the projects forward.