Elkhorn Avenue Shoulder Improvements

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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provides funds to States for transportation projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, particularly in areas of the country that do not attain national air quality standards. Created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, the program was reauthorized under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1997 and again as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005. From its beginning, the CMAQ program has been a key funding mechanism for helping urban areas meet air quality goals and supporting investments that encourage alternatives to driving alone and improve traffic flow.

Elkhorn Avenue between Fowler Avenue and SR 43 is a 2-lane major collector with unpaved shoulders and 12-foot-wide travel lanes (24 feet total). During the dry summer months, traffic-induced turbulence leads to significant airborne dust. During the rainy winter months, the shoulders become unstable, which presents safety hazards such as a flooding and sudden pavement drop-off. Cars that need to pull over will have to park in dirt or mud on uneven surfaces or too narrow a space, that makes pulling over difficult. Shoulder widening will improve ride-quality and extend the useful life of the roadway. It is important to preserve the existing roadway as it is a critical transportation route for neighborhoods, schools, recreation facilities, and industry. This road is also used by freight trucks, agricultural vehicles, and emergency response vehicles that all require wide berth.

Shoulder widening of Elkhorn Avenue will not only preserve the roadway infrastructure, but will enhance safe pathways to community destinations and improve transportation connectivity.  There have been 33 recorded crashes in the area from 2011-2021 according to the Transportation Injury Mapping System data (see Attachment J). Wider shoulders can lessen the severity of run-off-road collisions, and give more space for vehicles to maneuver around accidents.

The proposed project consists of paving 4-foot-wide shoulders on each side of the existing 24-foot travel way on Elkhorn Avenue from Fowler Avenue and SR 43 (approximately 3 miles). The shoulders will be paved with hot mix asphalt over aggregate base.

The expected benefits of the project are to reduce airborne particulate matter by paving the shoulders, thereby reducing the amount of dust in the air caused by passing traffic. In general, the advantages of properly constructed shoulders are:

  • More stable shoulders for vehicles which need to stop occasionally because of mechanical difficulties, flat tires, or other emergencies.
  • More stable shoulders allow drivers to correct evasive maneuvers to avoid potential crashes or reduce their severity.
  • The sense of openness created by shoulders of adequate width contributes to driving ease and reduces stress.
  • Stormwater can be discharged farther from the traveled way, and seepage adjacent to the traveled way can be minimized. This directly reduces pavement breakup.
  • Structural support is given to the pavement.

On September 15, 2023, the County submitted a CMAQ application for the project, and award notices will be issued in early 2024.  Should the project be awarded by the CMAQ review committee, the estimated project cost would be $2.7 million.