Traffic in Uniontown

Cars pass along Marine Drive outside of Three Cups Coffee in Uniontown.

A master plan for the Uniontown neighborhood is headed to the Astoria City Council after planners ensured any on-street parking lost as the busy thoroughfare is reconfigured would be replaced.

The city began work in 2017 on Uniontown Reborn to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety along Marine Drive, a busy four-lane road through which U.S. Highway 30 and U.S. Highway 101 both flow. The city convened an advisory stakeholder committee, including local businesses, to help guide the discussion.

The plan recommends cutting a westbound lane along Marine Drive; adding a turn lane between the Roundabout and Doughboy Monument; widening sidewalks; improving access for people with disabilities and adding a median refuge for people crossing at Bay Street; and adding bike lanes, planting strips and lighting. It would create a new overlay zone to guide design and development in the neighborhood.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the plan Sept. 30, with a second reading and possible adoption in October, said planning consultant Rosemary Johnson.

Business owners worried about the loss of parking on the south side of Marine Drive that would result from the reconfigurations.

Another concern was the elimination of left turns at Bay Street, which provides access to several nearby buildings, to make room for an enhanced crosswalk and refuge for pedestrians crossing Marine Drive. The plan has been amended to allow left turns while adding a pedestrian refuge.

“I believe all of our fears in Uniontown now have been taken care of, so thank you so much,” Diana Kirk, owner of the Workers Tavern and housing in Uniontown, told the Planning Commission on Tuesday.

Michael Duncan, a regional planner and grant manager with the state Department of Transportation, gave a formal written endorsement of the project from state transportation planners, albeit without any promise of money.

“We’re probably about six years out before funding would be identified for something like this, and actual design and construction would be more of that eight- to 12-year range,” he said.

Planning Commissioner Cindy Price said she hopes the master plan can be revised, considering how much Astoria has changed over the past decade and how much more it could by the time design begins. The plan is the best that could be put forward at this time, with the understanding funding, travel patterns and other factors can change, Duncan said.

Duncan agreed to look sooner at the concern by Kirk and other business owners about the shaking caused by passing trucks hitting the perpendicular crosswalks and stop lines. Planning Commissioner Sean Fitzpatrick said he and other commissioners were taken on a tour and could feel the impact of the trucks in front of Workers Tavern and at the crosswalk near Under the Bridge Cigarettes. Kirk claims the vibrations have caused cracked windows in her property.

Fitzpatrick asked whether continental crosswalks, with bars parallel to traffic with cutouts for tires, could be painted in front of Hauer’s Lawn Care & Equipment instead of the perpendicular style. Those style of crosswalks are usually reserved for midblock crossings, but there are exceptions from a property damage or nuisance standpoint, Duncan said.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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