Overview looks at traffic and mobility in Clemmons

Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 27, 2019

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As Clemmons grows, figuring out the best way to get from point A to point B has become more of a priority now and looking to the future.

So a visit from Scott Rhine, executive director of PART — Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, offered a timely overview of transportation and mobility in Monday night’s Clemmons Village Council meeting for a world that is constantly changing with new technology and more choices.

Rhine’s review provided some numbers involving Clemmons, including one that jumped off the screen to councilman Mike Combest — about 7,000 commuters leaving the Village every day.

“Those are 7,000 workers,” Combest said. “That’s a third of our population, and anybody who intends to construct anything in or around our Village that impacts that flow — whether it be an industrial or business park on the south end of town or a commercial development on the north end of town, that directly impacts workers in places outside of Clemmons. I guarantee you we are going to have these discussions a lot. That’s a big deal right there.”

In charts that Rhine shared, 54 percent of Village residents are commuting out of Clemmons for work, 42 percent are commuting to Clemmons for work, and 4 percent are living and working in Clemmons.

Part of PART’s services include the Route 28 West Forsyth Express route, but as Rhine said, his organization’s mission is “more than just buses.” It’s connecting communities through bullet-point items such as complete streets, walkable activity centers, livability and sustainability initiatives, integrated corridor management, parking management and pricing, and transit-oriented development.

With the closure of Business 40, the West Forsyth Express route for Clemmons and Lewisville was created in November 2018 to help provide another transportation option. Rhine said that he didn’t have specific numbers, but there was “good usage and it has continued to grow.

“It is, from a standpoint of who’s using it, it’s increasing every month. A lot of that is also dealing with how we go out in terms of getting some education and what are some options. People realize that there are some other ways of just getting around in the Triad and not just in your personal automobile.”

Another initiative that started with the shutdown of a key segment of Business 40 for more than a year was mobile faring, including the use of smartphones and a reloadable Touch Pass Smartcard. PART also has Wi-Fi available for riders on its buses.

Rhine said that one of the challenges for the expansive Triad, unlike larger cities such as Charlotte and Raleigh, is that there isn’t just “one downtown central business district” with folks often traveling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

“People are going everywhere,” Rhine said. “Mobility is not just the bus. It’s how you get around — whether you walk, whether you bike, whether you take the bus, whether you carpool, whether you vanpool. This is dealing with growth management in terms of how your community grows and as we continue to grow there’s going to be more and more challenges of how we move people — not just in their single occupancy vehicle — and how it affects our lives.”

Also in Monday night’s meeting, Combest gave a report from the Clemmons Fire Department Board of Directors’ 2019 annual update.

Combest provided a chart that showed the Clemmons Fire Department has 55 people, including 20 paid employees and 35 volunteers, and pointed out that 96 percent of the money for the fire department goes toward operations and just 4 percent for administrative support.

The fire department serves 30,000 residents and 1,177 commercial sites in a 29-square-mile area (26 in Forsyth, 2 in Davidson and 1 in Davie) and responded to 1,872 alarms last year compared to 2,059 in 2017, which was a 9 percent decrease despite the population served increasing by 3 percent. Combest stated that the result in fewer alarms was because of aggressive fire prevention programs — including inspections and education.

However, in property loss statistics, after 2017 when 98.2 percent of involved property was saved, 2018’s number dropped to 71.2 percent of involved property being saved, including $1 million of property loss being one fire at a single property that was not tied into public water and other fire protections, according to Combest.

He added that Bermuda Run’s service is scheduled to be suspended on July 1. Davie County/Bermuda Run have a special fire district rate of $.04 per $100 while Davidson and Forsyth counties have $.06 per $100.

Combest said that the leadership of the fire department is working with Davie County and Bermuda Run to try to resolve the funding issue and get them “to come up to the level of contribution that the other counties have.”

In conclusion, Combest called the local fire department the “gold standard” and that Clemmons gets more than its money’s worth for a unit that has a Class 3 rating, which ranks among the top 5.8 percent in the state.

The Council also approved an update to an ordinance regarding the state fire code amending Chapter 91.01 where Clemmons will manage the changes going forward instead of choosing a second option being considered where the county would have maintained it.

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the Council:

• Recognized Gail Pritchard, chairman of the Planning Board, along with Harry Howell (Zoning Board of Adjustment) and Josh McKinnon (Stormwater Advisory Board), who are all outgoing members for the respective boards, for their time of service, and also recognized the Planning Board for its work on the Comprehensive Plan.

• Heard from Combest on directing staff, by Council consensus, to put together a Volunteer Recognition Program to recognize the many volunteers who provide valuable service to the Village in many different ways.

• Heard from councilwoman Michelle Barson during Council comments that the Street Modification Guide for the Village would be introduced in the next meeting on Monday, July 8, for discussion.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the Jerry Long YMCA, in partnership with the Village of Clemmons, held the 2nd Annual Dirty Dozen 5K Obstacle Mud Run — with nearly 500 runners participating — and the first Clemmons Street Festival last Saturday in the Village Point area and that it was a “great event.” She added that Firefighter’s Appreciation Night will be held Tuesday, July 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mamma Mia Italian Ice.

• Heard from Mayor John Wait in the announcements portion of the meeting that trash pickup Thursday and Friday during July 4th week will be delayed one day.