NCDOT To Lower Speed Limit On Portion Of Lake Park Blvd This Week

NCDOT To Lower Speed Limit On Portion Of Lake Park Blvd This Week Featured

By / Local News / الأربعاء, 03 كانون1/ديسمبر 2014 05:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will be installing new speed limit signs along Lake Park Blvd this week. The signs will extend the existing 25 mph zone in an effort to make the road safer for pedestrians.
The Carolina Beach Town Council voted to lower the speed limit to 25mph on a portion of Lake Park Blvd at their October 14th, meeting.
That includes the area between Sumter Ave and St. Joseph Street.
Town Manager Michael Cramer explained on November 25th, NCDOT will also be making improvements to signs at the existing pedestrian crosswalks to make them more visible for oncoming traffic.
In October Police Chief Ken Hinkle said he met with North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) representative Gary Eckert in June and discussed challenges the Town has with crosswalks, signs, and speed limits on Lake Park Blvd from the downtown Central Business District (CBD) to the town limits of Kure Beach. Hinkle said many obstructions were found at the crosswalk areas, as well as potential misplacement of the signs. NCDOT has performed a speed study and has stated that if the town would like to change the speed limit on US-421 from Sumter Ave to St. Joseph Street from 35 mph to 25 mph council must pass a resolution.
Katie Hite, PE, PTOE, Division Traffic Engineer with NCDOT, explained in a letter to the Town recently that studies of the area showed, "The majority of drivers operate their vehicles at a speed that is comfortable without strict enforcement regardless of signage."
Hite explained, "The Department considers the dynamics of the area of paramount importance. Seasonal variations in traffic volumes and driver awareness on this approach to the Lake Park area and the various beach access points have led to safety concerns. Based on the findings, we recommend extending the existing 25mph speed limit zone on
US421 to Sumter Avenue. This section of US421 is within the Town of Carolina limits and will require the Town and the Department to enact concurring ordinances."
Hite explained the changes would repeal the current speed limits and establish the 25mph limit from Saint Joseph Street south to Sumter Avenue encompassing a larger area than the current 25 mph currently includes.
During the October 14th, meeting Police Chief Ken Hinkle explained, "Back in December of last year one of the things that was on my desk was to look at the safety of pedestrians, bikes and vehicle traffic on Highway 421, specifically in the area near Atlanta Avenue as it went north up into the Central Business District."
Hinkle said, "We have a lot of restrictions and challenges because it is a state road and I don't have a lot of control over what I can and can't do on that without getting their permission."
Hinkle said an engineer from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) visited with him and, "We did the entire roadway and saw all kinds of deficiencies from blocked signs to crosswalks, all kinds of issues. The biggest challenge the Police Advisory Committee
gave me a task on was to specifically look at crosswalks and pedestrian safety. One of the things we readily saw was the crosswalk at Atlanta and Lake Park Blvd is heavily used and the traffic is a high volume of traffic there."
Hinkle said he was almost hit by a car trying to cross at the Atlanta Avenue crosswalk.
That area is particularly challenging because of traffic coming north on Lake Park
Blvd around a curve near the Carolina Beach Lake. Vehicles often do not slow down for pedestrians and visibility can be a challenge.
The focus is to slow traffic in the area of the Carolina Beach Lake. An area where events such as the Farm's Market, Chowder Festival and movies on Sunday nights during the summer create a high volume of pedestrian traffic.
Hinkle said most motorists and pedestrians do not know the law which requires vehicles to yield for people crossing at a crosswalk and the department is working on educating the public through literature and at times increased enforcement.
Council member Leann Pierce asked if signs could be installed in the area alerting drivers to the upcoming crosswalk.
Hinkle said the process to get NCDOT approval for signs and other methods of alerting motorists is frustrating because of the rules they follow. Various signs have been proposed to NCDOT but nothing has been approved.
Local resident D.A. Lewis said he opposes the 25mph limit because slower traffic will create congestion at busy times of the year and questioned if anyone had previously been hurt in the area.
Council member Sarah Freide said, "I can't wait for an accident or injury report" before taking action.
The Council voted unanimously to approve the change.

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