Council To Discuss Traffic Study With Engineers At December 9th Meeting

Council To Discuss Traffic Study With Engineers At December 9th Meeting Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 03 December 2014 05:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH  - The Carolina Beach Town Council will meet with Stewart Engineering during their December 9th, regular meeting to talk about a traffic study for Cape Fear Boulevard East of Lake Park Boulevard and Canal Drive to Harper Avenue.
The Council voted at their November 10th, meeting to study whether or not to implement a new one-way traffic pattern near the downtown Boardwalk area.
The proposal was first introduced to the Town Council earlier this year as an alternative plan to an already approved streetscape project which would return to the road to a two-way street once a project to replace aging water and sewer lines is completed prior to the Spring of 2015.
The Council agreed during their October 28th, workshop meeting to conduct the traffic study which will determine if changing to a one-way traffic pattern will positively or negatively impact traffic flow in the downtown area.
According to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin, part of the Phase 1A infrastructure project is to enhance the streetscape on Cape Fear Blvd. The Phase 1A project began earlier this year in the Spring to replace aging water, sewer and storm water lines.
Parvin explained to Council last month, "The streetscape design was included in the current Phase 1A bid as a two way design that looks very similar to what is there today. The biggest change is the width of sidewalks has increased on Cape Fear from 6' to 10'."
The current cost to implement the streetscape design as originally planned for two-way traffic is $358,476.
Conducting a traffic study and implementing the one-way design is estimated at $481,911.50. If the Town implements the two-way design and decides to implement the one-way design after a traffic study the following year, the cost is estimated at $709,765.50.
According Parvin, "Carolina Beach has continued to research and review the flow of traffic in the Central Business District (CBD). Conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles are of particular concern when events occur downtown."
The study was estimated to be completed within four (4) weeks from the notice to proceed. The original streetscape plan called for ten-foot wide sidewalks and two-way traffic. The latest proposal would change that to one-way traffic with 17' 5" wide sidewalks on either side of Cape Fear near the Boardwalk. The project will improve underground utilities including stormwater drainage. New sidewalks will be wider with additional landscaping areas. The road will be paved once the work is completed.
During the Council's Tuesday October 14th, meeting, Parvin said one question came up at their recent meeting, will the one way plan create more of a traffic jam or bottle neck at Cape Fear or Canal and Harper?
Parvin explained, "No way to know without doing a true traffic study to learn the amount of traffic counts and movements during going east on Cape Fear or north on Canal."
Parvin explained, "Costs associated with engineering and constructing a new streetscape/stormwater design would be approximately $100,000."
The Council was unsure about moving forward without a study of traffic flows in the area.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, "My bigger issue was a traffic impact study and not relying on ten year old data." He said, "Without a traffic impact analysis I think that's perilous and end up back at a road diet problem. I'm not opposed to a one-way but I just don't have enough information to make that decision in this meeting."
Mayor Dan Wilcox said, "It's not just about the streetscape. We are getting ready to do a whole new Boardwalk. We are getting ready to revisit our existing Boardwalk areas and improve those. We are wanting development to come in on the empty lots and maybe even some take down of some of the older buildings to make the area more robust." He explained, "I think if we create the right entrance into our Boardwalk area it will promote development which is important, we have a number of empty lots sitting out there." Wilcox said he had concerns about moving forward with a one-way design without a traffic study.
During the Council's November 10th, meeting Councilman Gary Doetsch explained, "Let's say we did the traffic study and it comes back and says one-way won't work. We spent $7,500" to find out whether or not it would work and they could move on.
Councilman Shuttleworth explained, "My experience with traffic studies, unless it's really bad, they are not going to come back and say you can't do a one-way, they'll say you can do it and here is the impact."
Cramer said it's a tight timeline but the utility project and streetscape project could still be completed on time prior to Spring of 2015 once the study is complete and Council makes a final decision based on the results.
The Council voted four to one at their November meeting with Mayor Wilcox and Council members Gary Doetsch, Steve Shuttleworth and Leann Pierce voting in favor of the traffic study. Council member Sarah Friede voted no.
Friede pointed out the current plan for a two-way streetscape was adopted by Council after holding public workshops and she felt the Town should stick to that plan. Councilman Shuttleworth agreed with that point.


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