Pedestrian crossing at West Forsyth gains traction

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Council could consider budget amendment to address safety issue

The Clemmons Village Council revisited a proposal brought up earlier this year regarding a pedestrian crossing on Lewisville-Clemmons Road at West Forsyth High School in Monday night’s meeting.
Village Manager Mike Gunnell offered a possible action plan in a February meeting after the council heard a presentation in October 2021 regarding traffic and safety issues around local schools, including West, leading to a “road map” to address safety issues with vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
In addition, Gunnell previously cited meetings and concerns expressed from the public and talking with Kevin Spainhour, West’s principal, who said he had been contacted by several local residents — particularly those living within a close proximity of the school where buses don’t run “to provide a safe route” across the busy street.
All of this led Gunnell to talking with NCDOT and getting an estimate on what it would take to install a crosswalk with pedestrian signal heads at Southwest School Road and extending a short extension of the sidewalk across the street from West up to the traffic light.
Gunnell said in Monday night’s meeting that he had received proposals from a consulting engineer to prepare construction documents as well as from a surveyor, including estimated construction costs, and wanted to see if the council was ready to proceed with the next step.
Gunnell further stated that this is part of an overall plan, which also includes reducing the ongoing stacking of cars, with schools.
“If we get approval, the first thing will be getting a budget amendment,” Gunnell said of the crosswalk, pedestrian signal heads and sidewalk extension. “The design will take three or four months and if we want to construct it and with DOT approval, we would probably implement sometime this summer. I’d like to wait until then anyway just because of the reduction of traffic in trying to make the changes.”
Council member Michelle Barson said she was in support of this plan “and us taking on this responsibility. The sidewalk is inside the Village of Clemmons and that will help our residents get safely to and from school and safely across Lewisville-Clemmons Road. This is such a clear point of needed connectivity on a daily basis twice a day and nine months a year.”
She added that the school system rule of those living in close proximity to school and not having bus service makes it more important to provide those students and teachers who live nearby to have safe access, “and I’d say that doesn’t exist right now.”
Council member Bradley Taylor asked about the total costs involved, assuming if Clemmons approved going into the design phase, “if we go that far, we’re very likely to go all the way, I would assume.”
Gunnell said that with a construction cost estimate of $99,000 and design estimate of $22,000, “I’d say that an all-in budget amendment of $150,000 that gives us some contingency in there.”

Council member Mary Cameron said this was definitely a need and that she was in favor of doing this, “but we also need to be working with the schools to educate the students so that once in place they need to pay attention to it and not just run across the street. It’s a way for them to cross the street safely, but it’s also for the driving public. We have to have that communication. That’s an integral part of this whole process.”
Council member Chris Wrights agreed that the project was needed but asked if the county had been approached about assisting in the funding since the side of Lewisville-Clemmons Road opposite from West is not actually in the city limits of Clemmons.
However, Gunnell countered that “technically, the sidewalk would be placed within the municipal limits.”
Speaking of funding, Mayor Mike Rogers suggested that someone reach out to school superintendent (Tricia) McManus and principal (Kevin) Spainhour and have conversations regarding cost and see if they’re willing to participate in any way if additional work needs to be done on school property.
“The council is ready to go forth and fund 100 percent of it but would like to see them have a little skin in the game also or at least be very involved in conversations when more work becomes available that may need to be done that they may be willing to take care of those aspects,” Rogers said.
Barson said that those conversations are happening and will continue.
Ultimately, Taylor said he liked the manager’s suggestion of getting some financial information and bringing it back to council so a decision can be made.
“To make sure we do this correctly, let’s put it on the next agenda,” Gunnell said. “Let me talk to our finance officer and get everything lined up and get approvals for the contracts and budget amendment at that time.”
In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Approved Resolution 2022-R-15 Street Closing Order with Certification – Upland Road – for a street closing/right-of-way abandonment.
• Approved Resolution 2022-R-16 Street Closing Order with Certification – Clouds Harbor Trail – for a street closing/right-of-way abandonment, which includes a realignment and safer connection with Arden Drive.
• Approved Ordinance 2022-13 enacting and adopting Supplement 25 to the Code of Ordinances.
• Heard a presentation from Bill Brewer, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Deputy Director – Treatment, with information on the Winston-Salem Utilities Lead Compliance Program. He said this would only impact houses that were built before 1984.