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P Street, Lincoln, Neb.
Enhance Corridor Roadways for Motorized Transit

Landscape Architecture by Design Workshop


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P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska is just one block south of the University of Nebraska campus. On football Saturdays, Husker fans travel down P Street on their way to the game. The P Street District offers 32 restaurants/bars, 14 retail shops, two museums and the Grand Cinema. The spherical bollards (Wausau Tile) out front of the cinema protect patrons from errant vehicles. Coronation gold yarrow is growing in the foreground planter.


The capital city of Nebraska, Lincoln (pop. 280,364), has enthusiastically pursued the reinvigoration of its downtown. Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska (Go Cornhuskers!), and the P Street Corridor, located in the heart of the University District, was the city's first catalytic effort to enliven the downtown. The corridor previously served as the "weekday neighborhood" for downtown workers. With 32 restaurants and bars, 14 retail shops, two museums and a movie theater, P Street attracted the mid-day lunch crowd and served the neighborhood with a variety of after work entertainment options. Activity in the P Street Corridor is diverse, but due to the limiting conditions of the streetscape, its vitality is rationed into small windows of time throughout the day and year. Day-round and year-round "activation" was a priority of rebuilding the street. Design Workshop led the project from ideation through to construction documents.

In an effort to welcome new visitors to the P Street Corridor, the master plan included a redesign of the streetscape to ultimately make it Lincoln's central spine. The design team set forth four main performance goals that guided project development: improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists; enhance roadways for motorized transit; enhance environmental integrity; and encourage local economic growth and investment.

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Street-side rain gardens capture and treat 90% of the runoff from the streets and sidewalks via grading, plank pavers (left), permeable pavements (right) and Silva Cells.


Improve Conditions for Pedestrians/Bicyclists
To turn P Street into a vibrant promenade, the design team focused on how to return underused right-of-way to pedestrians, and how to bolster the corridor's character. By enlarging sidewalks from 9-feet to 19-feet, the design team vastly increased pedestrian space within the corridor while also including new plazas, pocket parks and alley retrofits.

A 400% increase in tree canopy brought much needed shade to the corridor, as well as various ecological services discussed later. These strategies increased foot traffic on P Street, benefitted retail stores, increased pedestrian safety and increased the number of "eyes on the street" to deter littering and crime. Overall, there has been a 67% increase in public appreciation of P Street among those polled.

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Existing street art from before the streetscape renovation were reused and reoriented to be more visible along the corridor.


Enhance Corridor Roadways for Motorized Transit
During the public outreach it was determined that no increase in pedestrian benefits could be a detriment to vehicular traffic. This presented a particularly interesting challenge for the design team. Instead of simply recommending a "road diet," the team had to be much more strategic with space. Through a decrease in lane width from 15-feet to 11-feet, and the removal of turning lanes, space opened up for more on street parking. This has had a direct economic impact on city retail sales and fee collections. Strategic actions such as managing delivery hours and changing the loading patterns of city buses meant the team was able to maintain an "A" vehicular level of service.

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Blue LEDs uplight the native limestone benches, a co-mingling of the elemental and modern in the streetscape. 'Terra Cotta' yarrow is the backdrop to the rugged seating.


Enhance Environmental Integrity of the Corridor
Urban ecosystems directly affect the health and wellness of the communities they support. The P Street master plan employed various performance strategies to assure trees could thrive in place, and that the street would be more resilient to storms, pollution and other stressors. By using Silva Cells, the streetscape provides an average of 600-800 cubic feet of space per tree for root growth. The amount of permeable surface was also increased by 30% to increase stormwater infiltration. This strategy, coupled with extensive bioretention areas, captures and treats 90% of rainfall from the street, sidewalks and adjacent plazas to reduce the urban pollutants entering local water ways and to relieve the strain on stormwater infrastructure. Planting over 500 new trees and protecting the 38 large, healthy trees already in place along the corridor has helped to decrease the urban heat island effect.

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The city design standard changed all street lighting from high-pressure sodium vapor lamps to LEDs. The standard also requires post-top luminaires.


Encourage Local Economic Growth and Investment
The design team helped city staff obtain funding approval for phase 1 construction by preparing a study of similar streetscape projects and their economic return on investment. The team worked with local business owners, city staff and development strategists to identify key areas for adaptive reuse and new development in the plan. At the time of the master plan development, 58% of the corridor consisted of local businesses. The team reached out to these owners during the planning work to ensure their needs were met. Two additional strategies that were used were to propose guidelines for first floor land-use, and to establish an art program to cover unoccupied building space. These two strategies will create the desired mix of business types and increase opportunities for local artists to display work in downtown Lincoln.

The measured pursuit of these four goals throughout the design and construction led to a street that reflects the desires of its community. The retrofit of P Street shows how rethinking our public spaces can help communities thrive in situ. The project works to support local businesses, to diversify the experience of the street for residents and to contribute a healthy urban forest that will shade future generations of Lincolnites.

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The pedestrian street-side space was increased by 200% by removing turn lanes and reducing lane widths. Street corner spaces were then expanded into a living room-like orientation.


Team
Design Workshop: Lead designer, master planning, landscape architecture and urban design
Clark Enersen Partners: Architect of Record
LSC Transportation Consultants
Stantec VIBE: Signage and Wayfinding
Urban Strategies: Market and Real Estate Analysis
Ollson Engineering

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Plant Collage




As seen in LASN magazine, August 2017.






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