West College Avenue Streetscape Project

Concept Plan Report
October 15, 2012

West College Avenue Streetscape Project
Concept Plan Report
October 15, 2012


West College Avenue Streetscape Project, Concept Plan Report Ferguson Township, Terraced Streetscape District

Table of Contents
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Project Background Case Study Site Analysis Existing Conditions Concept Plans Illustrative Graphics Budget & Phasing Funding Sources Next Steps Page 4 Pages 5-12 Pages 13-17 Pages 18-24 Pages 25 - 31 Pages 32- 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38


West College Avenue Streetscape Ferguson Township, Terraced Streetscape District

Project Background
T&M Associates was retained by Ferguson Township to assist with the conceptualization of the recently adopted Terraced Streetscape District zoning overlay. The primary objective, was to explore the application of proposed streetscape design standards as they related to existing conditions and the expectation of property re-development along the West College Avenue Corridor. Underlying the project mission was a desire to make the corridor pedestrian friendly and to “calm traffic”. The project study area was defined as the West College Avenue corridor from Blue Course Drive to Buckhout Street. A steering committee was formed and working with T&M professionals, met on a monthly (April-September 2012) basis to review and discuss the opportunities and challenges facing proposed streetscape development. Two public open house style meetings were held in June & September to garner public input. A joint meeting of the planning commission and supervisors was conducted on August 14, 2012 to present concept plans and solicit Township input. These meetings culminated in the preparation of the concept plans contained in this report. As a concept, these plans are the first step in realizing the vision of a unified, pedestrian friendly corridor that is safe, attractive and business friendly. The steering committee was comprised of the following members:
          

William Keough, Ferguson Township Supervisor Mark Kunkle, Ferguson Township Manager Patricia Lang, Ferguson Township, Director of Planning and Zoning James May, Director, Centre Regional Planning Agency Marc McMaster, Ferguson Township Planning Commission member David Modricker, Ferguson Township Public Works Director Vicki Rusnak, Planning & Program Manager, PennDOT District 2 Alan Sam, Arborist, State College Borough Daniel Sieminski, Associate Vice President for Finance and Business, Penn State University Gordon Turow, Director, Campus Planning & Design, Penn State University Steve Watson, University Planner, Penn State University


West College Avenue Streetscape Project
Comparative Case Study: Sycamore Street, Newtown Township, Bucks County, PA
May 29, 2012

Photo: Sycamore Street, Newtown Township PA


West College Avenue Streetscape Ferguson Township, Terraced Streetscape District
Case Study: Sycamore Street, Newtown Township, Bucks County PA

The West College Avenue Streetscape, Terraced Streetscape District was adopted to promote flexibility in design, use and implementation of various streetscape and zoning regulations geared towards creating a vibrant, mixed use retail and residential town center. Like many other municipalities the existing conditions within the newly created terraced streetscape district presents both opportunities and constraints with regards to effecting immediate and long term changes consistent with the goals of the Terraced Streetscape ordinance. Several key fundamental conditions emerge as the basis on which future design solutions will be based. These conditions are not mutually exclusive and often exist in combination. The most consistent element along the corridor is “inconsistency” itself. These baseline conditions are as follows: 1. Stable properties, less likely to be re-developed either short or long term 2. Transitional properties, either presently for sale or owned by Pennsylvania State University with a goal of redevelopment, both short and long term 3. Existing properties with sidewalks of varying width and/or condition 4. Existing properties with no sidewalks 5. Properties with multiple curb cuts or no curbing 6. Properties with no defined pedestrian zone 7. Distinctly different vehicular zones and ROW dimensions throughout the corridor



The Challenge
The Township is desirous of effecting positive, short term change, indicative of the commitment to long term growth, sound land use policy and quality of life for residents of the Township, the Terraced Streetscape District and neighboring communities. Doing so independent of land development applications becomes a primary hurdle for both economics and timing. How do we spend money wisely on improvements now that will not be for naught later?

EXISITNG SIDEWALK—Adjacent to Future re-development site


Sycamore Street, Newtown Township, Bucks County PA, offers some possible insights and solution ideas.




The Newtown Story
Like Ferguson Township, the Sycamore Street corridor enjoys an eclectic mix of private residential properties, commercial entities, churches, cemetery and retail establishments. Similarly it’s character changes from residential to commercial as one travels west to east. Sycamore Street, like West College Avenue is also a PennDOT roadway. Furthermore, Newtown’s goal was to promote a safe attractive public realm, while fostering economic vibrancy and re-development. Newtown faced many similar existing condition challenges as Ferguson. Varied ROW widths, existing sidewalks, no sidewalks and numerous curb cuts which interrupted the pedestrian experience. Most important perhaps, was the transitional nature of several key redevelopment parcels along the corridor. In the end the Township opted to pursue a comprehensive streetscape beautification process which implemented changes throughout the corridor but respected existing conditions where change was not feasible and stepped forward to implement change knowing that certain sites would evolve. New streetscape elements included: new curbing, patterned/colored sidewalks, new street lights, site furnishings and landscaping. Pedestrian control was supplemented with new mid-block crosswalks and clear definition in vehicular access points. Most importantly however, solutions were not imposed uniformly but rather adapted to fit with the underlying site conditions, particularly where a change in use was not likely. While the overall palette of materials stayed consistent, the width of new sidewalk and location varied as conditions warranted. Existing sidewalks for instance were not always removed but kept in place and augmented with new site furnishings, street lights and landscaping. Vehicular circulation was also revised to provide a “road diet” in which a center turn lane was mostly removed and parallel parking added to both sides of the street not only to meet parking demand, but provide much needed traffic calming effects.

EXISITNG SIDEWALK CONDITION — was not changed but augmented with new site furnishings and street lights.

NEW SIDEWALK CONDITION – Same location, opposite side of the street with all new sidewalk and amenities, but width respected available space.


Sidewalk Widths
The width of new sidewalks installed varied as conditions warranted. The constant was the scoring pattern and use of colored additives to preserve a uniform appearance and cohesiveness to the overall streetscape. This formed a “recognizable element” and identified this as “Sycamore Street” as it was not used elsewhere in the Township. Where existing sidewalk was encountered it was largely left in place. This is especially evident where an existing private residence had an existing retaining wall and 4’ sidewalk. All was left in place. New work ended at the property limits. Where no sidewalk existed and it could be added it was provided and installed with the new scoring pattern and the width was scaled to the available space.



EXISITNG 4’ SIDEWALK & WALL - left in place although someday this property may be sold and redeveloped. NEW SIDEWALK 6’ WIDTH — note use of educational/ interpretive signage at historic church


Defined Pedestrian Zone
Like Ferguson Township, the Sycamore Street corridor had numerous areas where no sidewalk existed and the pedestrian zone was intersected by multiple curb cuts and vehicular access ways. The solution was to create a defined pedestrian zone by adding in sidewalks, even if flush with grade. It was separated by a flush/depressed curb which allowed for continued access by vehicles, but clearly and aesthetically defined the pedestrian walkway versus the cartway.

DEFINED PEDESTRIAN ZONE — Depressed curb was added to define roadway edge visually and provide separation to 4’ wide sidewalk that replaced the previous asphalt driveway. The pedestrian realm is clearly defined

DEFINED PEDESTRIAN ZONE — Depressed curb was added to define roadway edge visually and provide separation to 6’ wide sidewalk that replaced the previous asphalt driveway. The pedestrian realm is clearly defined. Note sidewalk width transitions from 4’ to 6’ as space allowed. The pedestrian realm is clearly defined DEFINED PEDESTRIAN ZONE — Continuous depressed curb was added to define roadway edge visually and provide separation to 6’ wide sidewalk that replaced the previous asphalt driveways and provided walkway where none previously existed. The pedestrian realm is clearly defined


Defined Pedestrian Zone—Crosswalks
Where applicable at intersections, pedestrian crosswalks received upgraded treatments with “StreetPrint”™ brick patterns to clearly define the pedestrian zone. Mid-block crossings also utilized the same treatment in the cartway. Again a consistent design palette was adopted and adapted to each particular location, yet speaks to a cohesive design.

NEW CROSSWALK DEFINITION – New “StreetPrint” ™ Crosswalks were added to key intersections to clearly define the pedestrian zone and provide visual interest to the intersection, breaking up the monotony and scale of the asphalt

MID-BLOCK CROSSWALK — In strategic locations, mid block crossings were created to provide access from one side of the corridor to the other. Crosswalks were clearly defined with signs and flashing yellow lights where required.

CURB BUMP OUT — To accentuate the mid-block crossings and decrease crossing width, bump outs were created to provide pedestrian “refuge zones”. Raised curb planters were added to provide green space and soften the corridor.

MID-BLOCK CROSSWALK — In this location the continuation of the sidewalk was not feasible on one side of the roadway due to existing land use and other constraints. The mid-block crossing was employed to provide safe access to the sidewalk on the opposite side.


PENDING REDEVELOPMENT - The Promenade In this location new 8’ sidewalk was added and new street lights were also added with the full understanding that this former ACME Market site was slated for re-development as a mixed use, residential/retail project similar to the goals of the Terraced Streetscape District.

Build it now, they will come...
PENDING REDEVELOPMENT - De Lucca Homes In this location new sidewalk was added at 4’ wide and new street lights were also added outside the paved zone with the full understanding that this former parochial school site was slated for re-development as De Lucca Homes new corporate headquarters. The existing parking lot was retained to provide parking for the Church and the Township park across the street, PENDING & POST REDEVELOPMENT - Goodnoe’s Corner In this location new sidewalk was added to meet and match previously installed walkway and street lights. The line between the two is clearly evident but illustrates how new development can be matched to previously installed improvements. The irregular shaped piece between the light and trash receptacle was a former “bench pad”. The bench was relocated to its new home as seen above. Before the buildings on the left were built, this site was a grassed hillside much like the photo to the left.
Perhaps the most significant example Sycamore Street provides, is how the issue of pending redevelopment was dealt with. These photos illustrate how the streetscape improvements were installed by the Township in advance of both known and unknown redevelopment plans. Goodnoe’s Corner is perhaps the most vivid example simply because the line of demarcation between previous streetscape work and new development is clearly visible. As the land planner and lead landscape architect for this project Evan Stone can personally attest to the coordination which the site’s developer had to embrace to “marry” his project with the existing streetscape improvements. The Promenade further demonstrates how streetscape improvements were installed well in advance of this proposed mixed use retail/residential development. The Acme has been vacant for many years as the site remains in transition but the streetscape was installed to complete the pedestrian realm.


Sycamore Street in Newtown Township, affords one example of how an effective streetscape can be implemented with a variety of opportunities and constraints. Similarities between this corridor and West College Avenue in Ferguson Township are numerous. Many of the challenges faced in Newtown are present along the West College Avenue corridor. Right-of-way constraints, ownership issues and existing land use patterns challenge the creation of a unified public/pedestrian realm. Moving forward is key. Doing so in meaningful ways with fiscal prudence is a top priority. Ferguson Township recognizes that it can not wait for future development to provide all of the solutions it desires for the Terraced Streetscape District. Steps should be implemented now to improve “curb appeal” and eliminate dangerous deficiencies in pedestrian circulation creating a vibrant and safe public realm.

DRAFT Recommendations
Based on a comparison of Sycamore Street to West College Avenue and the inherent similarities between the two corridors, we offer the following draft recommendations for meeting the opportunities and various challenges presented: 1. All new sidewalk and streetscape amenities should be consistent with the adopted Terraced Streetscape District Design Guidelines to the extent practical and warranted. 2. “De-paving” and softening of the public realm should be implemented to the greatest extent possible through the use of planters and landscape areas. 3. An access management strategy should be utilized to minimize curb cuts and vehicular vs. pedestrian conflicts, 4. Whether depressed or full reveal, a consistent curb line should be established to clearly define the cartway from the pedestrian zone. 5. Where sidewalk presently exists within the right-of-way on “stable sites*” it should remain but be augmented with pedestrian scaled light fixtures and site furnishings in accordance with the design guidelines. 6. Where sidewalk presently exists within the right-of-way on “transitional sites**” it should be replaced with new sidewalk, pedestrian scaled light fixtures and site furnishings in accordance with the design guidelines. 7. Where no sidewalk exists, within the right-of-way on “stable sites” or “transitional sites” a clearly defined pedestrian zone should be provided which includes a sidewalk, lighting and street furnishings. The with and application of the specific streetscape amenities will be reflective of the underlying existing conditions. If sufficient right-of-way does not exist to create a walkway, then the Township may consider easements with the property owner OR utilize mid-block crosswalks to move people to the opposite side of the street where sidewalk exists or is proposed. 8. Crosswalks should be clearly defined and utilize decorative treatments like Street Print to differentiate them from the vehicular zone. *Stable Sites-those properties where the existing land use and development is least likely to change or be re-developed in either the short or long term. ** Transitional Sites - those properties either presently for sale or owned by Penn State on which re-development is the likely outcome.



Site Analysis


Site Analysis


Site Analysis


Site Analysis


Site Analysis

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