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‘Worst intersection’ in Clemmons

By Jim Buice

The Clemmons Courier

Instead of discussing what has been become a regular conversation of late – the Idols Road Industrial Park project – the Clemmons Village Council shifted gears in Monday night’s meeting to talk about Lewisville-Clemmons Road, another longtime favorite topic.

This time, it was Mayor Nick Nelson who brought up what he called his “alternative to the median” with “an immediate remedy” by considering implementation of right-in and right-out traffic measures at Sessions Court, one of the most dangerous intersections along the busy road from I-40 to U.S. 158.

These options have come up in the past and were considered for discussion at the retreat in April, but it never happened. Nelson asked to add the item to the agenda for council consideration for Monday night’s meeting for a possible solution that could “potentially could take between three and 12 months to be installed.”

Costs provided by Public Works Director Mike Gunnell involving right-of-way acquisition and physical changes to parking, access and other modifications for Sessions Court between Wendy’s and Pizza Hut range from $20,000 to $50,000 for three options.

Nelson cited statistics he gathered from the DOT website that Stadium Drive, Ramada Drive and Sessions Court have had the most accidents from 2012 to 2016 along the southern portion of Lewisville-Clemmons Road. In those four years, Nelson said that there had been 186 accidents along that stretch with Stadium leading the way, followed by Ramada (42 accidents) and Sessions (39 accidents).

“What we’re being told by DOT is if you eliminate those left-hand turns then you’re going to reduce or remove the accidents,” said Nelson, adding if you take out the accidents at Ramada and Sessions, that’s eliminating 44 percent of the accidents along that dangerous stretch of Lewisville-Clemmons Road.

However, when Nelson asked the council about moving forward with his proposal and let staff pursue any of the options involving Sessions Court, he was reminded that the council voted to have a study done by DOT on the complete stretch of Lewisville-Clemmons Road that will be completed by April 2018.

“I think this (Sessions Court) is part of a larger project,” councilwoman Mary Cameron said, “and I want to see the entirety of the thing. I don’t want to go in and do something that is going to mess up the entirety of whatever plans comes back, and we have no clue what that’s going to be right at the moment.

“I’m looking for a design for the entire road. You can make this same statement about any segment of Lewisville-Clemmons Road to a certain degree. We’re not waiting that much longer. It’s April. It’s not as though we’re going to have to wait 10 years for a study to come in.”

Councilman Lanny Farmer said that making the change at Sessions Court might not necessarily make things better.

“I don’t see that this is going to accomplish anything,” said Farmer, expressing his concerns over the increase in U-turns and other dangerous movements that could create the potential for accidents as a result of not being able to make a left-hand turn. “Essentially, this is a concrete Band-Aid that’s going to be placed out in the road very similar to a median that is going to force traffic to make a decision.”

Councilman Chris Wright said that he would be interested in pursuing improving the “worst intersection” on Lewisville-Clemmons Road now since it might otherwise be seven or eight years before anything else may get done.

“I’d like to hear the DOT tell us that because none of us are traffic engineers,” Cameron said. “It may cause more problems than it solves.”

After a lengthy conversation, councilman Mike Combest asked if there might be some middle ground.

“I think what I’m hearing is if there’s a way to mitigate the hazardous driving conditions we have now,” Combest said, “while waiting for the big longtime permanent solution – an interim tourniquet, if you will – and it’s not unduly costly, it’s worth looking at.” Planner Megan Ledbetter was asked about the cost of NCDOT doing an impact analysis for this intersection, and she replied it probably wouldn’t cost the Village anything, but she would be glad to check.

“If we can get a thorough analysis and open the door for a possible C+ solution while we’re waiting for the A+ solution, that sounds like a winner to me,” Combest said.

The council voted unanimously to authorize the staff to speak with NCDOT about the particulars of doing an impact study looking at possible solutions “to fix” the Sessions Court intersection. Although the Idols Road Industrial Park project wasn’t brought up Monday night, the Clemmons Council did meet with the Forsyth County Commissioners on Aug. 17 regarding their concerns about the proposed development and asking that the county keep the lines of communication open going forward.

In other business, the council:

• Recognized three state championship teams from West Forsyth High School from the 2016-17 school year: wrestling, boys track and field, and girls soccer.

• Announced that Village Hall will be closed on Monday, Labor Day, and that trash pickup will be delayed one day next week. Pickups will be Tuesday through Saturday.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in her marketing report. She said that the final Movie Night in the Village for the season will be Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Jerry Long YMCA when “Sing” will be shown.

• Heard during the Sheriff’s Report that the response time for calls for service, which had been more than 10 minutes, dropped to less than nine minutes in July.

• Called for public hearings for Zoning Map Amendment for PTX Commercial – Zoning Docket C-223, and for Zoning Text Amendment – C-UDO-76.

• Approved a commitment to sponsor a Wayfinder Directional Sign for a one-time fee of $500 as visitors exit BB&T Sports Park in Bermuda Run to promote the sponsorship with Twin City Sports for Village businesses to add their company logo to the sign.

• Agreed to put up a sign on the future library site on Stadium Drive in Clemmons at the request of the Friends of the Library.