One of the main criticisms for Pink Wall redevelopment is the fear (real or imagined) that the traffic that results from increased PD-15 density will overwhelm the neighborhood. But does it have to?
With a little creative reimagining, I think increased density could be virtually unnoticeable on the Pink Wall’s interior roads. I sense the same sneers of disbelief produced by reading studies that show traffic along Northwest Highway and Preston Road has been decreasing for nearly 20 years.
Let me explain.
The graphic above shows PD-15 (light yellow) and the major interior streets north of Northwest Highway. There is currently a traffic signal at Pickwick Lane and Northwest Highway. On the western end, the first signaled intersection is at Thackery (off the map). Edgemere Road is not signaled.
Any rejigging of the traffic pattern has to address fears and offer a solution.
The fear is that buildings adjacent to Tulane Boulevard (green rectangle) will send traffic throughout the neighborhood looking for the fastest ways out to Northwest Highway and Preston Road (red circles). The result would be too much traffic on interior roads that leads to jams at the existing exit points (Averill Way, Pickwick Lane, Edgemere Road and further west at Thackery Street).
Those fears can be seen as blue dotted lines. The other potentially more dangerous fear is that new traffic begins short-cutting down the alley and straight out Averill Way to Preston Road (dotted red line).
It’s worth noting that you aren’t seeing dotted lines on Tulane Boulevard (green).
THE SOLUTION: CREATE A NEW OPENING IN THE PINK WALL AT TULANE BOULEVARD
Creating a new signaled intersection at Tulane Blvd. and at the same time requiring any replacement of Preston Place, Diplomat and Royal Orleans point their garage entrances and exits towards Tulane Blvd. is the beginning of the solution. On the southern end, I envision Tulane Blvd as three-lanes … left and right onto Northwest Highway, and one incoming.
The dedicated left and right turn lanes would shed more traffic faster and enable a dedicated right turn onto Northwest Highway from Tulane when eastbound Northwest Highway traffic has a protected left turn arrow onto Tulane.
And not to botch up Northwest Highway any more than it is, the Tulane and Pickwick signals must be synchronized perfectly. When Northwest Highway traffic is stopped for Pickwick, it’s stopped for Tulane, removing any additional Northwest Highway suffering. The synchronized signals would also discourage drivers from abandoning Tulane for Pickwick (no benefit).
But you say that Tulane isn’t wide enough for three lanes. Not yet. First, Preston Place has a four-foot indention in the middle of its lot that I would extend towards Northwest Highway. Next, I would enable a Royal Orleans rebuild to shuffle right/east enough to complete the third lane. The shuffle would be allowed up to a fourth floor before the footprint shuffles back into position (the different gray boxes). Even-Steven.
That shuffle on its right/east side would shrink the street whose remainder would be combined with the Athena’s existing side yard for some green space — the same type of green space A.G. Spanos had offered as a possibility on the right/east side of the Diplomat.
And if my math isn’t right to get the third lane, two would still give direct Northwest Highway access which, after all, is the goal.
But, I hear you thinking, but what’s to stop the new neighbors from cutting back to the alley and Bandera to zip over to Averill Way and Preston Road? Easy. Note the black dots at the top of Tulane and on the Diamond Head green ribbon? Those are retractable barriers that prevent cars from going that way that can be retracted by emergency services needing access.
Creating a new opening into the Pink Wall at Tulane Boulevard offers a traffic solution for two-thirds of the developable acres in PD-15. It gives the new buildings an almost dedicated entrance and exit for Northwest Highway while discouraging wilding through the neighborhood. It supplies additional green space. It provides sidewalks and a signaled intersection for walking across and along southern Northwest Highway towards the Preston Center shopping center.
The only thing this solution needs is a big ol’ bow on top.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.