A consultant has offered two elaborate solutions to protect the privately owned City Cemetery wall that would cost as much as $130,000, but some City Council members questioned the expense.
A section of the wall, which is on Washington Avenue at the intersection with Amelia Street, has been toppled numerous times, usually because of drunken drivers. . The city has already paid for several changes at the intersection but none of them has seemed to work. Those changes include adding right and left arrows to the flashing beacon, increasing the height of the west curb to protect the wall, adding Chevron signs to alert drivers to the end of the street and new pavement markings.
David White, with Kimbley Horn, was paid $7,850 to help city staff evaluate the intersection, and he came up with two solutions. There have been nine crashes at this intersection, with most hitting the wall, since 2006.
"Some vehicles turning left lose control when they turn from Amelia to Washington," White said. "Traffic is not really slowing down when it is making the left turn. And even some are using the whole width of Amelia and Washington and coming close to the curb."
White said he ruled out several other concepts, including more signs and pavement markings, a roundabout and a guardrail. White also said a three-way stop is not warranted and he didn't see any advantages to it because it would create traffic delays. Also, he said there would be confusion when multiple drivers come to the intersection at the same time with who is to drive through first, which could make it less safe. He said the preferred solutions are to change drivers' perception of Amelia Street, constrain the intersection geometry by making the width tighter, enhance the streetscape and use bollards to protect the wall.
Alternative 1 squeezes the intersection down in the middle, making the width smaller so vehicles would have to slow down when turning left. This would pinch motorists, giving them less space to maneuver, but still leaving enough space so vehicles can safely travel through the intersection at the same 25 mph speed. Reflective bollards would also be added to act as a barrier for the wall and increase awareness. This alternative makes it easier for larger vehicles to make the turn, offers more opportunity for landscaping, is a good solution for an urban setting and has greater potential to reduce turning speeds.
Alternative 2 takes space out of the middle of Amelia Street and pushes vehicles to the edge, which would prevent drivers from using the extra width there now to increase turn radius. White said this alternative guides vehicles through the left turn, creates higher visibility, splits left- and right-turn movements and has less of an impact on turning speeds.
"I've got to be frank, I wouldn’t be a fan of spending money to redesign this intersection right now," said Councilman Brad Ellis. "Can we put up a stop sign? Let's put up a stop sign and see if there are any accidents and give it six months and see if there are any accidents. We don’t have a cost estimate on this project yet but it's probably more than a stop sign I would guess."
Alternative 1 would cost between $80,000 and $105,000. Alternative 2 would cost between $105,000 and $130,000.
Doug Fawcett, the city's director of public works, said he doesn't think adding a stop sign would help much.
"It's very attractive from a cost standpoint, but it is very unattractive from a traffic standpoint," he said.
Councilwoman Kerry Devine said she prefers the second alternative 2.
Councilman Fred Howe asked if the city could do a hybrid of the two and use traffic sticks and morph this with the island option in alternative 2.
City Council didn't make a selection and will consider the matter at another date.