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Two Solutions Proposed To Protect City Cemetery Wall

A consultant provided City Council with two solutions to protect the privately owned City Cemetery wall, but some members questioned the expense of both alternatives.

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.

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Tom Byrnes March 29, 2012 at 09:01 PM
The hiring of an outside consultant and flushing $7850.00 down the toilet to turn a solvable predicament into rocket science represents a fleecing of Fredericksburg citizens and underscores why new leadership is needed in our city. Councilman Brad Ellis had it right: put a stop sign or flashing red light at the T in the road. The consultant did not even include this as among the ridiculously expensive and unnecessary "fixes" because it just made it too easy. Common sense was not an option. Google is full of links to councils, boards and localities that had to deal with how to control a three-way intersection and the solutions they came up with all by themselves. If City Council wants to weigh other common sense solutions, consider making the Amelia St. traffic turn one block earlier, in front of the Free Lance Star. Either way, wasting thousands of dollars on a consultant to promote an unnecessary $80-130K solution is just malfeasance. Notice nobody stood up to challenge this waste of time and egregious waste of taxpayer dollars.
Hamilton March 30, 2012 at 12:48 AM
BUY LOCAL or just a double standard? Ethics or integrity? Who made the decision to hire an out of town consultant? A Councilor said they did not so did it come from the City Manager and his staff? Why didn't they first look to local professionals who pay taxes in this city? Let's see, the city hires a firm who did a study on Lafayette Blvd, the City adopts the study and 6 months later the same consultant who is now representing the private sector tells the city that the portion of the study adjacent to his new Client project is not valid. And, now the City goes back and hires that same consultant for this study? Neither Option 1 nor Option 2 (above) meet AASHTO or VDOT requirements for sight distance yet we paid $7,850 for someone to tell us mostly what we already knew and offer solutions that would not even work on paper. VOTE out of office or FIRE the person who perpetrated this. FOLLOW THE MONEY - and look to how much we are paying this same consultant for the Fall Hill Avenue bridge over I-95. Tom, no one knew how much staff paid this guy because it was all done behind closed doors. There was no RFP, this was apparently sole sourced to this one firm. Dan, dig deep on this and tell us taxpayers why local firms were not asked to provide proposals. BTW, my email to Lord Mayor questioning this project prior to Council meeting was forwarded to the press by the city.
Rebekah March 30, 2012 at 06:44 PM
How about just some rumble strips leading up to the turn? Or speed bumps to slow people down? Probably wouldn't cost as much but not sure.
stonewallpark March 31, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Rebekah you may be on to something, sounds like a very great idea but that will be to simple for some?It would be very easy and cheap to do. Just mill 12 inch strips every 2 feet about one-half inch deep for about 125 feet . You are on it for real .
WleighkSt March 31, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Why not use the bollard style already in use a block away at the Hugh Mercer Statue on the Wash Ave mall? They could be placed on Wash Ave from the corner of the wall at Lewis St down to William and even continued down the length of the wall on William. It would look like we had a theme or at least the same good idea twice.

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