Clemmons continues to address school traffic safety

Published 11:11 am Tuesday, March 15, 2022

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By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

The Clemmons Village Council continued to discuss solutions regarding traffic and safety issues around local schools Monday night after announcing plans to pursue a potential pedestrian crossing at West Forsyth in its previous meeting.

This time, council member Michelle Barson gave an update on the process, including meeting with key stakeholders such as administration at Central Office, principals at each of the Clemmons-based schools (Clemmons Elementary, Morgan Elementary, Southwest Elementary and West Forsyth High School), the Sheriff’s Office and DOT.

“Obviously, the biggest goal in solving the traffic problem is really about bringing safety to the students and the teachers, and by doing that we’ll resolve the greater traffic problems,” Barson said. “Everything is plugging along. The next step is really to kind of bring together all of the different people we have met together with and do a little onsite at West Forsyth — that being kind of the most pressing — determining how best to transition it from high-level speak to more action oriented and put that in the hands of the people that can do it and do so as a team all at once.”

Barson and council member Mike Combest have headed the initiative over the last two months.

“We quickly realized there are going to be short-term, mid-term and long-term solutions, and one thing we discussed is bringing to council some of the short-term solutions with smaller dollars attached that can make a big impact right now,” Barson said.

That included directing Village Manager Mike Gunnell to explore extending the sidewalk in front of West Forsyth for a pedestrian crossing and most recently looking at infrastructure improvements at Clemmons Elementary and crosswalks on Harper Road and Village Point Drive at Morgan Elementary.

Gunnell said that there’s an area adjoining the school property at Clemmons Elementary where “we’ve been looking for a remedy and have a solution to get an estimate done and present to council to add curb and gutter, and redoing some of the storm drainage there and bring the sidewalk up to grade with the road or up above. We can also widen that section out, with cooperation from the school system, and provide a larger dropoff area right there in front of the school and create some more stacking availability.”

On Harper Road, Gunnell discussed incorporating crosswalks from some of the adjoining neighborhoods, including the roundabout at Novant.
“The intent was when DOT built the roundabouts that the crosswalks would be installed at that time,” he said. “Also at Morgan, what I can do is reach out to the principal and discuss that possible crosswalk with her at Village Point Drive.”

Following the items on the manager’s report related to safety and traffic flow around the schools, Combest said, “By consensus, I would propose that the council authorize and direct the village manager to find and contact professional services that devise solutions to the challenges of local school congestion and hazards — basically saying authorizing to find contractors that will help us to convert this from analyzing and accessing and understanding the problem to now take action to solve it. Obviously, there’s going to be funds involved.”

Also in Monday night’s meeting, Gunnell said he wanted to revisit action taken in the previous meeting where sidewalk projects on Harper Road and Idols Road were given priority over U.S. 158, considering DOT is currently doing a feasibility study for widening the busy road from Lewisville-Clemmons Road to Harper Road — and reallocate the funds from that project.

“One thing we didn’t do, and I need to ask council to make a motion to do is the funds we had allocated for the 158 project, I think it would behoove us to take to the other three projects since we are expecting construction costs to be well above what the original estimate was about three to four years ago,” Gunnell said. “I think we’ll need those funds to finish out those projects.”

The council promptly moved to reallocate the sidewalk funds from the U.S. 158 sidewalk project to Harper Road (from Trinity Elms to Morgan Elementary), Harper Road (from Morgan Elementary to Jerry Long YMCA) and Idols Road (from Middlebrook Drive to Tanglewood).

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

• Approved bid proposals for the Springside Drive and Tanglebrook Trail culvert replacement projects after each received three bids. The low bid of $878,621 from SS Civil Construction LLC in Clemmons was approved for Springside (plus a 10% contingency), and the low bid of $758,000 from North State Water & Sewer of Winston-Salem was approved for Tanglebrook (plus a 10% contingency).

• Heard from Wes Kimbrell, stormwater engineer, on submitting an application to Forsyth County Soil & Water for a financial subsidy in the maximum amount of $50,000 to go to the Springside Drive project. “Fingers crossed on that,” Kimbrell said.

It was also reported that this would be the last meeting for Kimbrell, who has resigned his position in Clemmons. He was recognized and applauded for his good work for the village.

Kimbrell said he has accepted a job with the City of Winston-Salem as construction field manager.

• Terminated the State of Emergency agreement that was put into effect in Clemmons in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Forsyth County recently rescinded its action on the matter.

• Had a public hearing and lengthy discussion headed by planner Nasser Rahimzadeh on Zoning Docket C-UDO-86, including policy decisions and/or decisions involving session law. The N.C. General Assembly passed a number of bills that impacted local development regulations, including a number of session laws that will require amending the village’s development regulations. No action was taken, and the discussion will continue in the next meeting.

• Also heard from Rahimzadeh on receiving a quote from CodeWright of $14,300 for doing an 18-week assessment on the town’s UDO. The council asked to get more information to see if it would be worth the money to proceed and then discuss further in the next meeting.

• Heard from attorney Elliot Fus on his work in decriminalization-related changes suggested to the general Code of Ordinances (excluding the UDO) and moving forward with a formal ordinance document to be adopted later.

• Approved directing the manager to proceed with procuring cellular backup to the village’s network at Town Hall and Public Works, and to direct the finance officer to make any necessary budget amendments as needed after recent disruptions in service.

• Appointed Mayor Mike Rogers to serve as the Village’s N.C. League of Municipalities voting delegate for the 2022-23 League Board of Directors.

• Heard a proclamation from Rogers declaring March 19-27 as Forsyth Creek Week in Clemmons.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the Marketing/Communications report that SeeClickFix, a mobile app to “get things fixed” with a new platform that will allow residents to report quality-of-life issues and service requests, has launched. It is being promoted on Facebook and on the website.