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Renew Opelika Road Project

Renew Opelika Road map graphic

This fall students in Dr. Sweta Byahut's Sustainable Transportation Planning class (CPLN 5970/6970: Seminar on Transportation and Mobility) worked on an ongoing project for redevelopment of Opelika Road within the City of Auburn.  Auburn is currently in the process of finalizing the development proposals, and consultants have been engaged to assist them in the plan preparation.  The students' work is complementary to the work being undertaken by the city. The class included a mix of graduate students from the Community Planning program and Civil Engineering and undergraduate students from Environmental Design and Architecture. The class was divided into several teams of three to four students based on their skills, interests, and backgrounds. They worked on a bike and pedestrian plan for the Opelika Road and the Village Mall nodal redevelopment.Renew Opelika Road Project

One set of students consisting of two teams worked on two sections of Opelika Road (Gay Street to Dean Road and Dean Road to the city limits). In the first stage, the students documented the existing situation, including an analysis of current policy. They carried out a bicycle and pedestrian level of service (LOS) analysis using a performance measure point system, taking into consideration presence of sidewalks and crosswalks, conflict areas for pedestrians, signalization, bicycle facilities, curb cuts, and other amenities. All road segments fared poorly for bicycle and pedestrian facilities with a rating of D, E, or F (on a scale of A to F).  This was supported with photographic documentation and GIS-based maps describing the physical, land use, and demographic characteristics for the study area.  In the next stage, the teams strategized development proposals including design and policy guidelines for sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, bicycle facilities, lane widths, side streets, transit, and land use. To develop alternatives and finalize the proposals, students undertook detailed traffic engineering analysis using HCS+ (Highway Capacity Software) that automates the recommendations of the Highway Capacity Manual using traffic counts, signal timing, and field data to come up with optimal design solutions.

Renew Opelika Road ProjectThe second set of students worked in three teams on the Village Mall nodal redevelopment. One team carried out a parking utilization survey documenting the occupancy of the parking lots within the Village Mall that has been designated as a Regional Center in Auburn’s Comprehensive Plan for 2030.  The purpose of the study was to determine more optimal and sustainable land use policy focusing on under-utilized and vacant land for the node based on actual occupancy rates. The methodology involved recording the existing parking supply, conducting parking counts on site, estimating existing and future parking demand for the node, and identifying potential parking options and parking management policies to better use the existing parking supply.  A second team examined the detrimental environmental impact of the vast expanse of paved surfaces in the mall that causes excessive storm water runoff, pollutes the nearby water bodies, and creates a heat island effect. The third team considered the land use and design aspects focusing mainly on zoning, lack of density in the built form, landscape, circulation, and public area enhancement. They examined options such as form-based codes, mixed use development, and infill development to create more vibrant, walkable, and livable areas.

Renew Opelika Road ProjectThe student teams made detailed presentations and 3-D visuals highlighting plan proposals. Their work has been compiled into project reports incorporating relevant information and maps that have been shared with the city planners. These can be made available on request from the class instructor, Dr. Sweta Byahut.