The Assessment of Existing conditions summarized the presence and function of six corridor elements:
- Circulation and Parking
- Intersection Identity
- Overhead Utilities
Collectively and singularly these elements project an image of the vitality of the corridor. Therefore, the appearance and placement of each element should be utilized in a fashion which defines a rational and structured purpose for the entire corridor.
Consolidate Curb Cuts
As a basic goal, the frequency of curb cuts along Plymouth Road should be reduced wherever possible to eliminate congestion, reduce accident potential, and in general, improve the flow of traffic. Curb cuts can be reduced by considering parallel connecting drives linking several parking areas with a single access to Plymouth Road. The elimination of curb cuts will also increase the amount of available open space within the corridor right-of-way providing for additional landscape opportunities, increase roadway capacity and reduce rear-end collisions.
Develop Collective Parking
Improved parking efficiency can be gained by consolidating several small parking areas into a single lot serving all businesses in an area. In addition to providing increased parking spaces, consolidation usually allows removal of several curb cuts and provides increased opportunities for interior landscaping, boundary planting, and almost always results in improved vehicular flow within the area.
Provide Structural Parking Lot Screening
Parking lots are a source of visual clutter that occur consistently throughout the corridor. At the same time, they are of primary importance to the function of the businesses along the corridor and must be located conveniently for accessibility from the road as well as to the businesses. In areas where sufficient dimension exists, this can be accomplished with berming and landscaping. In areas where site constraints require parking to be located adjacent to the right-of-way, structural means such as masonry walls or planters should be utilized. Typical heights for these walls range from 36 to 48 inches.
Provide Neighborhood Screening
Screening is usually recommended where corridor commercial uses are directly adjacent to a residential area. Normally, the smaller a commercial property, the greater the need for screening since the site tends to be more completely covered with buildings, parking, and service. Masonry walls are recommended for durability and ease of maintenance. Typical wall heights are 6 to 8 feet. On larger commercial sites screening may be accomplished with evergreen plantings.
Site Signage Consolidation
This recommendation often accompanies consolidated parking as an effort to combine several individual businesses into a "district". Consolidated signage aids in the identity and collective marketing of the businesses. It often consists of a single sign complex headlining the name of the "district" with a listing of the individual businesses.
Treatment of the right-of-way landscape within the corridor should continue to be a primary determining factor in the establishment of character and the development of a high quality image. Several areas of landscaping can be combined to present the desired image including street trees and right-of-way plantings. Guidelines should be established to encourage landscape enhancement of properties fronting the corridor, including planting/berming/walling to screen parking areas, yard plantings, and an emphasis on maintenance of all landscape features.
Corridor Pedestrian Improvements
Continuous and safe pedestrian pathways and crossings should be provided through the corridor. While many properties have sidewalks, several areas along the corridor are void of pedestrian pathways. Connections between commercial uses and adjacent neighborhoods are important to the vitality of the business area. A uniform pedestrian pathway system throughout the Plymouth Road Corridor is desirable.
Install Corridor Lighting
There are a wide variety of non-related light fixtures that contribute to the sense of corridor clutter. Corridor lighting is a major visual site element that has a significant potential to establish a sense of design continuity throughout the corridor. Not only is the type, level, and character of lighting important to establishing a night-time identity, but the mass and physical presence of the light pole and fixture as a repetitive element in the corridor view plan provides an immediately recognizable feature. Accordingly a carefully coordinated family of light fixtures for roadway, parking and pedestrian areas has the potential to provide a unique identification for the Plymouth Road corridor.
Improve Corridor Signage and Graphics
Public signage including identification, directional, and regulatory information should be standardized on sign panels that share common design elements. Signage, like lighting, is an element that can provide design continuity throughout the corridor. Graphics such as banners, pennants, and flags can provide a repetitive identifying element and a sense of playfulness through the use of colors, shapes, textures, etc. In addition, graphics can serve a useful purpose in dissemination of information such as:
- Address Information
- Commercial District Identification
- Seasonal Promotions
- Special Events
Remove Overhead Utilities
Electric and communications transmission poles and wires are one of the primary causes of visual clutter in the corridor. Options for removing main overhead utility lines should be explored, and may include underground placement throughout the corridor, selected underground placement with underground street crossings, or relocation of overhead utilities to corridors behind the primary fronting properties.
Application of Enhancement Elements
The implementation of the Plymouth Road Corridor Design Plan will include the use of a palette of furnishings, fixtures and structural elements. Integrated through prudent design these elements will enhance the appearance and function of the corridor and private properties.
Two fixtures were selected to be used on the streetscape.
Fixture Number 1
The first, is a fixture which provides light at a higher elevation, and arches over the street. The height of the light source is approximately 22 feet, allowing for a single arm banner to be mounted on the terrace side of the pole. The luminaire is a "Teardrop" design manufactured by Holophane Company, Incorporated. The specific type would either be the "Boardwalk" or "Esplanade" version.
The pole would be an ornamental pole manufactured from Steel/cast iron preferably the "North Yorkshire"or "Columbia" versions. The poles would include a pre-drilled hole for a street sign mounting bracket. The pole bracket arm connecting the luminaire with the pole would consist of a six foot "West Liberty" bracket.
Fixture Number 2
A smaller version of the light would be used in pedestrian and special event areas.
Screen Walls / Planters
The design plan recommends the use of screen walls to minimize the views of off-street parking. In addition, the use of raised planters would be appropriate in streetscape areas where the setbacks allow sufficient room, such as at the intersection of Plymouth and Middle Belt Roads. This would provide an alternative planting environment to tree grates. The planters and screen walls would be similar in construction. It is recommended that brick walls with precast concrete or limestone copings constitute the materials for both the screen walls and the planters.
Street trees are proposed along Plymouth Road and all of the roads entering the corridor. The trees would be primarily planted in the terrace and planters within special event and pedestrian areas. Where applicable, the planting environment would include under-drains and irrigation.
Accent brick paving should be used to highlight areas used most frequently by pedestrians. Brick pavers are recommended over the alternative of concrete pavers because of the durability of the product and it's color retention. Due to the expense of special paving and the fact that it isn't easily noticed by the traveling motorist because it is a horizontal surface, it is recommended that it be used in areas where the impact is greatest. Therefore the use of special paving is focused at street intersections where the motorist is able to appreciate it and where pedestrians congregate.
The Design Plan recommends the use of Mast Arms to replace the current traffic signal poles. The use of a Mast Arm eliminates the need for the overhead wires to support the signals, which helps reduce the clutter of the intersection. Crosswalk signals can also be mounted to the Mast Arm.
The design plan notes the use of an intersection structure which spans the entire dimension of the roadway. When used these structures would be fabricated from steel and include assemblies for traffic signals, directional signs, and crosswalk signals.
The proposed street light poles would include a pre-drilled mounting for side street names. The name plates would be fabricated to include an insignia of the City Seal with the street name. It is recommended that the sign name plate be a color matching the color of the City logo.