Editorial: One-Way Traffic On Cape Fear Blvd Bad Idea

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 01 October 2014 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Town of Carolina Beach is considering changing traffic flow on Cape Fear Blvd east of Lake Park Blvd from two-way to one-way traffic leading to Harper Avenue. This seems like a great way to make the area more pedestrian friendly. During the summer months people walking throughout the area often interact with vehicle traffic traveling through the area in front of the Boardwalk gazebo.
That seems to be the driving force behind this proposed change; to make it safer for pedestrians by limiting vehicle traffic. Consider that vehicles in that area of Cape Fear Blvd are already driving at a snail's pace. Making the road one-way will simply mean they'll be driving along at a snail's pace in a longer line due to congestion at the intersection with Harper Avenue and Canal Drive. And then again with the same vehicles that just had to circle the block.
If a person is prone to getting hit by very slow moving vehicles, then changing the road to one-way traffic isn't going to help them. And to date I've not heard of incidents where people were run over by a car at two or five miles per hour near the Boardwalk. If so, let us know!
Sure, making the road one-way will allow for 17.5 foot wide sidewalks rather than seven-foot wide sidewalks. But it that really that important? That's a heck of lot more sidewalk than is currently in place and the Town can barely manage to maintain those over the many decades since the existing ones were installed.
There is no real benefit to a one-way traffic pattern. There is a stop sign and crosswalk in that area. Vehicles slow down or stop at the crosswalk for pedestrians. Making it one way won't cure disrespectful drivers.
Not to mention the one-way pattern will literally cause traffic backups of monumental proportions at the intersection with Harper and Canal Drive. That will cause a ripple effect at other area intersections with increased congestion.
A few years ago the Town had to pay lots of money to revert Lake Park Blvd back to four lanes after a failed Road Diet pattern was implemented reducing the lanes to two with a turn lane. That was because it wasn't tested first.
In this case, studying it first is paramount because you can't just tear up those 17.5 foot wide sidewalks and widen the road. Once the one-way pattern is in, it's a commitment not easily undone.
Downtown Wilmington has two-way traffic on the majority of streets.
They have narrow roadways with parking on either side and are often much more busy than our Cape Fear Blvd. They somehow manage to operate perfectly fine.
This was a last minute change that was first discussed in 2010 and never implemented. Perhaps it should stay that way.

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