Council considers adding three-way stop sign to slow traffic

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 29, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

For the third straight meeting, the Clemmons Village Council debated how to move forward with traffic-calming measures for Gardenspring Drive and how that decision could impact streets throughout the town.

Ultimately, the council called for a public hearing at the next meeting on Dec. 10 on the placement of a three-way stop sign at Gardenspring Drive and Sandhurst Drive for the purpose of traffic calming. They also agreed by consensus to direct the staff to work with the Ad-hoc Transportation Committee to start creating a process and a list of approved traffic-calming measures by the time of the retreat early next year.

Although no action was taken immediately on putting up stop signs in Monday night’s meeting, this appeared to be the next step in addressing a longtime problem with speeding on the street, which is used as a cut through from the growing number of developments along Peace Haven Road to Lasater Road.

Several residents addressed the council in the Oct. 23 meeting about their fears of getting out to walk on what they called a “dangerous” road, and they were desperately seeking solutions to the speeding problem “before someone gets killed.”

They petitioned the council several years ago to reduce the speeding limit from 35 mph to 25 mph but said that’s had little impact. There have also been electronic speed signs put up and citations handed out to no avail.

In the last meeting earlier in November, Public Works Director Mike Gunnell went through a PowerPoint presentation with 32 different measures (including non-physical, vertical, horizontal and diversion) and the costs involved to address these concerns.

Resident Laurie Fitzgerald spoke in the public comments portion of Monday night’s meeting, saying Gardenspring needs to move to the next step.

“Regardless of whether it’s a three-way stop sign at Gardenspring and Sandhurst, followed by a speed hump or another permanent solution, the residents are united and request the council to move forward with effective local governance for a solution,” she said. “We should be used as the prototype for other neighborhoods in Clemmons with speeding problems.”

That was part of the conversation among council members — whether to move forward with Gardenspring and/or wait until having a more comprehensive policy in place.

“Once we start doing this, it’s going to come up again,” Gunnell said. “The same one won’t be the same solution on every street, but it would be nice to have a toolbag to pull out the different solutions, maybe a combination that we could use.”

When asked about a three-way stop for Gardenspring, Gunnell said: “If you want the quickest, least expensive fix, this is it.”

Councilman Mike Combest warned that “if we execute this, that will be the new normal.”

Councilwoman Michelle Barson said that was her concern, too, and it would be good to have guidelines in place, such as a flow chart for what the next step might be in a particular neighborhood.

“I don’t think it’s something that will take years,” she said. “I think it’s something that we could work on and expedite in the next few months.”

Councilman Chris Wrights said that the three-way stop would be a good immediate solution for Gardenspring but that more is needed to address the entire Village, and letting the new Ad-hoc Transportation Committee — with a traffic planner and traffic engineer on the board — would make perfect sense.

“The speeding problem in neighborhoods goes way beyond just Gardenspring,” Wrights said. “I’d like to see us put together some type of comprehensive procedures and steps that need to be taken.”

Mayor John Wait commented that “this is the kind of bureaucracy that I don’t like,” adding that residents of the neighborhood had come before the council and were very clear in what they wanted and it shouldn’t take another 60 days to get something done.

Councilwoman P.J. Lofland, who has worked extensively with the neighborhood on the problem, agreed with Wait’s take.

“It shouldn’t take an Act of Congress and a half a lifetime to get something done unless you just muck it up with rules and regulations,” she said.

Councilman Scott Binkley said that “the ball is rolling now on this one, so why not keep moving on it and continue to get some of this stuff down so we can write something later on. This needs to be fixed.”

In another agenda item, planner Megan Ledbetter put together a consolidated bike lane program for the Village after learning earlier this month that CMAQ Funds, through a federal program, will be available for something that is not engineered and shovel ready to move forward — if Clemmons was interested.

Wait said when he found out at a recent Transportation Advisory Committee meeting that some extra funds might be available, he spoke with Ledbetter about any projects, which must be at least $100,000 (with a 20 percent local match) that might work with a tight time frame — they are calling for projects by Dec. 6.

Using a cost of $20 per linear foot as an estimate, Ledbetter pulled together four roads — Clinard-Barr-Tanglebrook Trail (10,149 linear feet), Idols-Idols Road Extension (17,379 linear feet), Lasater-Fair Oaks-Rossmore (15,405 linear feet) and Glengarriff Road (7,681) feet — for a total of 50,614 linear feet of proposed bike lanes with an estimate of $1,012,280.

She said that the council could consider all or part of the project, but it had to be at least $100,000 to qualify for consideration.

However, with the high cost and knowing some of the roads still need to be resurfaced, the council decided by unanimous consensus not to move forward with a submission.

In other business, the council:

• Approved moving forward with Phase IA and Phase 2 of the Market Center Drive project, as discussed in detail in the previous meeting in November. Four of the five members of the council were in favor of approval in the Nov. 13 meeting, but councilman Mike Combest wanted a little more time to digest all the information. “I’m ready to vote yes on it and proceed,” Combest said prior to the 5-0 vote of approval.

• Heard from Ann Stroud, finance officer, regarding a draft of the Capital Improvement Plan for the Village from 2020 to 2029 with the purpose being having something to review, talk about in more detail and offer input at the retreat early next year.

• Approved a revised schedule for Saturday hours at Public Works in 2019 with the new schedule being the first Saturday during the months of April through Saturday. The council started the Saturday schedule twice a month this year in May to gauge community interest, and in 12 weeks, there were just 80 visits. At $400 a day to staff the facility, that turned out to be $60 per user. The consensus was that the cost was exorbitant, but the council wanted to give the public another opportunity at just once a month during the months that seemed to be most in demand.

• Agreed to consider a proposed recycling pilot program and business trash dumps through Waste Management upon receiving more information from Village Manager Scott Buffkin.

• Heard from Wait that there would be a free shred event (residential only with a maximum limit of 75 pounds) on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Public Works facility.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the flag retirement ceremony where Boy Scout Troop 736 retired the American flag in remembrance and honor for those who have served or continue to serve on Nov. 19 was a nice event and hopes to make it an annual event. She added that the Clemmons Wonderland website is now live and active.