Spencer compromises on proposed Salisbury Avenue restriction in split vote – Reuters

SPENCER – Spencer has approved a proposed restriping on Salisbury Avenue after compromising on a detail of the project.

The originally proposed new lane would have reduced the number of lanes to one in each direction along the road with a center turn lane and flanking cycle lanes from 17th Street to Long Ferry Road.

The council rejected that proposed restriping plan in a 3-2 split vote on Tuesday, but took another vote on returning the four-lane model to Jefferson Street instead.

Aldermen Sam Morgan, Andrew Howe and Rashid Muhammed voted against the original measure. Alderman Pat Sledge and Pro Tem Mayor Patti Secreast voted for the project. Alderman Steve Miller was absent. Mayor Jonathan Williams expressed support for the project.

After some discussion of the next steps for the restriping after the failure of the first vote, Howe introduced a motion to resume the project with the reduction in the duration of the model change.

Howe said he voted no because he thought the road out of town had the character of a freeway after passing the Food Lion location. Muhammed and Morgan stuck to their negative votes on the issue, but How reversed his, so the measure passed.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is planning to resurface this section of road and the question was how the road would be restriped. The changes should not cost the city anything. Work should begin at the end of the year.

The meeting sparked a litany of public comments on the matter.

Most commentators had the same basic concerns: reducing the number of lanes could create traffic jams that would affect the public and emergency vehicles, increase safety concerns, and pose a problem as commercial development expands in the region.

“If it ain’t broke let’s not fix it,” one commenter said.

Some commentators noted the plan’s references to the layout of Salisbury town center lanes and pushed against the idea that going in that direction would be a good thing.

“I drive every day from Salisbury Avenue to Jake Alexander for work,” Lisa Monroe said. “I hate going through Salisbury. If you get behind a car going 20 miles an hour, you’re stuck through Salisbury.

Brown said some vehicles are too large for roadside parking across Salisbury and are crowding traffic lanes.

Not all feedback was negative. Jim Gobbel spoke out in favor of redesigning the strip to add bike lanes to calm traffic.

“I know coming from Salisbury on the three lane roads they have up there, once people hit the Spencer town limits, zoom in, they’re gone,” Gobbel said. “Dangerous, they are accelerating.

Gobbel said he and his wife often walked down Salisbury Avenue and could feel the wind from passing cars.

“Traffic calming, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a safety issue,” Gobbel said, adding that council had “done their homework” on the issue, praising city planning staff.

Someone who submitted a comment agreed that the change would be positive and thinks the change would improve his safety as a runner and cyclist, saying that sometimes drivers swerve and insult him while he’s speeding exercise.

City planner Steve Blount said he had started hearing concerns recently and appreciated people coming to the meeting to speak out on the issue. He was keen to address some of the issues in a presentation to the board.

He reviewed changes that, in theory, would provide more community connections, improve local health, increase property values, attract more business and bring environmental benefits.

“Everybody wants certain nice things in their city,” Blount said. “They want better restaurants, they want places to shop, they want better jobs, they want nice neighborhoods, and you don’t get those things by wishing.”

Blount said the lane restriction is supported by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s design program and that reducing the number of lanes, adding bike lances and a dedicated turn lane would have a calming effect. on Salisbury Avenue. He noted that the wide, flat surface means a high speed limit.

Blount pointed out that cyclists have the right to use the roads and that without cycle lanes they force vehicles to slow down behind them.

Blount said the city has tried to review and respond to every concern raised. He offered to adapt the bike path to a right-turn lane with traffic cones when the NC Transportation Museum hosts an event. Some reviewers have noted that traffic tends to back off around Hendrix Barbecue in Spencer. Blount said city staff asked the owner to alter the flow of traffic behind the wheel, which would reduce the need for cars to stop on the roadway.

“The problem isn’t created by the bike lanes, it’s not created by the number of lanes of traffic, it’s created by the wonderful BBQ at Hendrix Barbecue and the people who want to line up to get in and out. ‘get,’ Blount said.

He said Salisbury Avenue and Long Street are not considered critical roads for emergency traffic by the NCDOT. He noted that some business owners have also expressed support for the change, including Pinocchio’s Anthony Nero and Beth Nance, co-founder of the NC Museum of Doys, Tolls and Miniatures.

He pointed to a Federal Highway Safety Commission study that pointed to a significant decrease in wreckage when “road diet” is also added to a roadway.

Spencer Police Chief Mike File said he questioned officers on the matter and some were concerned about traffic backups, but vehicles are expected to move more slowly.

“There were positives and negatives about it,” File said.

He said there was also a concern about wrecks resulting from a lack of familiarity with the new traffic pattern. On the positive side, File said the change would likely result in fewer vehicles illegally overtaking school buses on Salisbury Avenue. He also said it would facilitate pedestrian passage to and from the transport museum and departmental traffic control during events.

The filing said there is no doubt that there are many speeding tickets on the road.

Fire Chief Michael Lanning said there are unknowns for the project and his main concerns revolve around traffic congestion, but traffic calming is a bright spot. He echoed his concerns about the education period as people also adjust to the new traffic pattern. He said the ministry’s preference would be to travel in the turn lane during emergency response.

“We have issues with the way he is now. We’ll probably have problems if we change it,” Lanning said.

Town Alderman Sam Morgan pointed out that there were sections in Salisbury without cycle lanes and claimed the sole purpose of the whole scheme was to restrict traffic to one lane in each direction. He proposed to the city to reduce the lanes, keep the four lanes and add bike lanes to Salisbury Avenue. He said the city should wait until there is more demand. He said the community was divided on the issue.

“What I don’t like is having this shoved down my throat,” he said.

Later in the meeting, Morgan said he thought there were alternatives, but he didn’t like the restriping plan.

Howe said it’s conflicted, but he hopes council won’t let the issue get in the way of all the good things the city is doing.

“I really struggled with this one,” Howe said.

Alderman Pat Sledge said she was also struggling with the issue, but said she thought the change would improve safety along the road and had heard residents tell her they would cycling if they could do so safely.

Mayor Jonathan Williams said the concerns are valid, but mostly speculation about the unknown and worst-case scenarios.

“It’s a bit of a risk we take if we go forward, but to progress we have to take risks,” Williams said.

He said traffic calming was the most important part of the problem for him.

“We’ve had businesses that have been ruined by drivers hitting them, we’ve had multiple planters — which are owned by the city — that have been hit, we’ve had a house that’s been damaged,” Williams said.

Williams said he thinks the reward outweighs the risk.