This summer sort of started off on a good note with the Tacoma Mobility Master Plan being integrated into the Comprehensive Plan of the City of Tacoma. It is a wonderful document by design. There are about 100 pages worth of design standards for all kinds of bicycle facilities and other elements of the Complete Streets movement. There is even a prioritized project list of phased projects all geared towards connecting all of Tacoma with bicycle facilities - bike lanes, bike trails, bike boulevards, the works.
However, Tacoma's Mobility Master Plan has been a perfect example of how having a plan does not necessarily mean the plan will actually be carried out. There are two major flaws with the Mobility Master plan: there is no funding for it and the City isn't organized enough to diligently execute the implementation of the plan into their daily business.
On the funding side of things, the entire Mobility Master Plan in the three distinct phases is slated to cost about $38.5 million. The first phase is $13.7 million total which includes 18 bicycle boulevard projects, 18 bike lane projects, 4 sharrow projects, a cycletrack along Wright Park, $6 million worth of sidewalks, 4 intersection improvements and 6 shared use paths. All told, quite a bit in terms of how far transportation money goes these days. Yet as it stands today, the Mobility Master Plan is simply lucky to achieve any kind of progress as there is no dedicated source of funding for these projects.
And as for putting in the bike infrastructure, the City of Tacoma has been erratic at best in getting things in the Mobility Master Plan done as part of regular road maintenance. There have been two roadway improvement projects recently completed that have raised my eyebrow.
The first was a repaving project on 6th Ave between Sprague and Tacoma Ave. This particular stretch of 6th ave acording to the short-term mobility master plan project list is supposed to have a bike lane from Ainsworth to Broadway. The roadway was paved sometime in late July and in early August looked like this:
Since then, a yellow centerline has been striped along the road, but the bike lanes are nowhere to be seen. I personally had numerous email exchanges with the City of Tacoma about this, but nothing has happened. Now that the fall is here with winter quickly approaching, it looks like this critical stretch of 6th Ave won't see bike lanes on it for a still indeterminate amount of time.
The second even more eyebrow-raising and nearly face-slapping incident has been the case of the appearing and disappearing bike lanes on North 30th Ave. Kevin Freitas delightfully observed on September 24th that new bike lanes had been striped on the N 30th hillclimb:
However, the very next day the same bike lanes turned into this:
In the comment thread of KF's post on the N 30th st there is some discussion of how sharrows would be a better treatment for the downhill side, but regardless, the uphill side was de-striped as well. Also a interesting tidbit, N 30th is a medium-term project, but somehow bike lanes were striped there (even if just for a day) before any bike lanes of the short-term project on 6th ave were striped at all.
So as can be seen Tacoma really doesn't have it's act together in terms of taking action on the Mobility Master Plan. Without the dedicated funding a lot of these projects aren't going to get done. However, even as a part of regular road reconstruction projects, the City has been blowing it in terms of implementing Mobility Master Plan projects by not simply laying down some extra paint when road repaving projects are carried out.