It sounds like a horror movie — Bumpout on Ninth Street. And if you're a driver accustomed to multiple lanes of traffic as you head into the downtown area on Ninth Street, the bumpouts, or curb extensions, will initially be a frustration.
The six lanes on Ninth Street narrow to five at Q Street, in front of Barry's Bar & Grill. And it narrows to four lanes past P Street, where the first of the bumpouts is in place in front of the Graduate Hotel.
If you're a pedestrian, the bumpouts — which extend the sidewalk across a former traffic lane — mean you have fewer lanes to walk across.
The city has looked at a number of methods to help bridge the divide between central downtown and the Haymarket since a 2005 report identified the need to knit the two together, says Hallie Salem, with the Urban Development Department.
The bumpouts (or curb extensions, elephant ears, curb build-outs, curb bulges, nodes) do this by creating a shorter walking distance across busy Ninth Street. They also mean less walk time on the lights and more drive time for vehicles.
Counts show traffic in the far-west lanes of Ninth Street is significantly lower than other lanes and they were often used for turning into the Haymarket or onto the Harris Overpass, Salem wrote in an email on the subject.
So the city is reducing the crossing distance for pedestrians through the use of curb extensions, Salem said.
Construction of the nodes is expected to be complete this month.
There are also future plans to narrow the walk across P Street at the Ninth and 10th street intersections. The plans for City Centre, a high-rise apartment, retail and parking complex expected to replace the Journal Star office building, also call for nodes extending into P Street.