Pennsylvania Ave Complete Streets Design Alternatives

As part of their Senior Design Capstone course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students created complete street designs for Pennsylvania Avenue in Mason City.

The City of Mason City has demonstrated a commitment to multi-modal transportation methods by establishing numerous bicycle routes throughout the city; a complete street design of Pennsylvania Avenue builds on the existing network and increases connectivity.  The project area includes seven blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, from Willow Creek to the south to 4th Street NE to the north. By incorporating multi-modal Complete Street features, such as dedicated bike lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, and traffic calming measures, Pennsylvania Avenue will become more accessible for all citizens. 


The students provided three design alternatives for the project, ranging from minimal physical changes and painted markings to bike and pedestrian-friendly built improvements.  All alternatives incorporate several design features, such as replacement of the existing pavement surface, replacement of aged street light luminaires, and removal of the traffic signal at the East State Street intersection. Along with the designs, students calculated cost estimates for the project. 


Alternative One, the Economical Street, is a simplified Complete Street design, not modifying any curb lines or street widths. High visibility pedestrian crosswalks at each intersection, as well as shared bike lane signs and street markings are integral items in Alternative One.


Alternative Two, the Charming Street, incorporates the high visibility pedestrian crossings and shared bike lane markings of Alternative One but modifies each intersection throughout the project area using a modified bioswale bump-out. These bump-outs extend the sidewalk into the street, reducing the pedestrian crossing distance. These bump-outs also reduce vehicle speed throughout the corridor, further increasing pedestrian safety.


Alternative Three, the Complete Street, incorporates the high visibility pedestrian crossings and bump-outs from Alternative Two but includes a dedicated bike lane in each direction. Removing bicyclists from the vehicular travel lane not only reduces congestion and traffic for motorists, but promotes bicycle ridership along the corridor. Studies show that amateur riders prefer separated bike lanes when utilizing on-street facilities.