Budget amendment approved for pedestrian crossing funding

Published 10:57 am Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Clemmons Village Council sets aside $150K for safety project at West Forsyth

After discussing a pedestrian crossing on Lewisville-Clemmons Road at West Forsyth in its previous meeting, the Clemmons Village Council moved forward with the approval of a $150,000 budget amendment Monday night.
The funding will cover the survey, design and construction costs, plus some contingency, 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.
In the Nov. 14 meeting, Village Manager Mike Gunnell revisited 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 commitment to address safety issues with vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Part of that included meetings and concerns expressed from the public and discussions with Kevin Spainhour, West’s principal, on being contacted by local residents living close to the school where buses don’t run to provide a safer route to cross the busy four-lane road.
Gunnell said he wanted to see if the council was ready to take the next step in the process, including the possibility of a budget amendment to proceed.
Council member Mike Combest said, “We know we have a significant problem of students being let off on the far side of the road and having to get across, and there’s no designated crossing point. We also know the amount of growth in that area is going to continue and folks that live on that side of the road are not eligible for school-provided transportation because they simply live too close.
“I think if we do approve money for this, we’re going to establish our intent to be really committed to solving this challenge of getting school traffic congestion, safety and pedestrian issues solved. This particular part of the project will be essential but not sufficient. The problem won’t be solved unless the other members of this team are willing to contribute and make some significant investments for the whole solution.”
Council member Michelle Barson said that this piece is within the local municipality’s power.
“This is not the state, this is not the school system, this is not the officers,” she said. “This is the Clemmons opportunity to make a real commitment to school traffic safety.”
Questions were raised about if there were any actual numbers on how many students cross the road — and if only students in that designated area will use the new crosswalk and this doesn’t solve the problem of others crossing farther down the road.
“This will at least provide some sort of solution,” Barson said. “We can’t control everything.”
Council member Mary Cameron said she knows there’s a problem but wants to make sure money is being spent wisely, “and are we actually going to solve something rather than just creating a way for students to go around something? Just as with any other project we have, what’s the impact going to be, and are we going to make a difference?”
Council member Bradley Taylor added that in the most ideal world, the crossing probably should be at August Drive, where he said most people are coming from.
“But based on the research that you all conducted, it has to be at Southwest School Road where the stoplight already exists,” he said. “Will students go down there? Who knows where a 14- to 18-year old mind will be? But we would hope that they would go to the safe point of crossing and not just run across the street.
“West Forsyth just keeps growing. I think it’s a worthy project. What I asked last time is if a lump sum is something we are comfortable with our budget to support — to be safe, $150,000 and it probably comes in less. That was my question.”
Gunnell replied, “That’s what your budget amendment would do. We would pull funds out of the General Fund into our account to pay for this.”
Barson made the motions to approve a contract with Kimley-Horn for $22,000 for engineering/design services and approve a contract with Encompass Surveying & Engineering for $2,280 for surveying services, followed by a budget amendment of $150,000 (to also cover construction costs) for the Ped Head and Crosswalk Project at Southwest School Road and Lewisville-Clemmons Road. All were approved unanimously.
In another agenda item, the council agreed, by consensus, on approval for two applications to be submitted to the Metropolitan Planning Organization with 20 percent local matches — if they are awarded — for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) and Carbon Reduction Project (CRP).
One is for the purchase of electric power equipment and a vehicle — alternative fuel projects ($27,200), and other is for the installation of a stoplight ($50,250) at Lewisville-Clemmons Road at Holder Road.
Also, in the financial summary report, finance officer Ann Stroud said that $2,249,294 has been spent to date from the American Rescue Plan funds — primarily on stormwater projects but also on several capital improvement projects.