Editorial: Caution: Study One-Way Traffic On Cape Fear First

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

Managing Editor

The old saying, "Measure twice, cut once" comes to mind when considering a recent proposal to convert Cape Fear Blvd east of Lake Park Blvd to a one-way traffic pattern leading to the intersection of Canal Drive and Harper.
Just eyeballing the idea and diving right into a new one-way traffic pattern is not the way to operate. Carolina Beach learned a couple of years ago why it's not a good idea to rush into a new traffic pattern just because there's an existing project going on, time if of the essence and a decision has to be made soon in order to make a change.
That was called a "Road Diet". Time was of the essence. The North Carolina Department of Transportation was getting ready to finalize work on Lake Park Blvd and needed to know if the Town wanted the same four lane traffic pattern, or, a new two lane pattern with a center turn lane and bike lanes on either side.
Instead of testing the new "Road Diet" pattern, the Town went ahead and painted permanent lines. After many months of traffic backing up in the summer from Carolina Beach into neighboring Kure Beach and the Town paying consultants to fly in and tell us everything would be fine if we installed roundabouts at major busy intersections, the Town Council finally made the hard decision to cough up a couple of hundred thousand dollars to grind the painted lines and road up, repave it and return Lake Park Blvd to a four lane road.
The lesson of that story? Don't rush. Test it first. Save lots of money and heartache.
The currently proposed one-way pattern is much smaller in scale, but it's located in the heart of our Central Business District.
The Town says the idea has already been studied. That study was done prior to a new Hampton Inn Hotel being approved for construction at the intersection of Harper Avenue and Canal Drive.
If traffic is to enter Cape Fear Blvd from Lake Park and travel one way to Canal Drive and Harper Avenue, the intersection at Harper and Canal could become the nightmare of   four way intersections in our area. Canal to the north with two way traffic; Harper with two-way traffic on the west; the Hotel with a parking deck on Harper to the east of the intersection and the one-way traffic dumping into that intersection from the south. Sounds like a lot of fun if you enjoy hypertension.
How will this impact other area intersections? Intersections at Lake Park Blvd and Harper Avenue as well as Cape Fear Blvd will see an impact on some level. Whatever that impact is (positive or negative) needs to be discussed based on the latest traffic counts and studies of flow in the area. If the purpose of changing to a one-way pattern is to improve pedestrian safety in the Boardwalk area, will it be any more safe with slow moving (5 mph or less) vehicles going one direction with people walking out in front of them or vehicles traveling in both directions with people walking out in front of them? Perhaps the traffic isn't the majority of the problem. Maybe crosswalk signs with a red light would keep everyone alert. Attend the September 30th public meeting


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