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Carrboro talks traffic issues

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer

CARRBORO – “Road diets” for both West Main Street and Jones Ferry Road could improve safety in Carrboro, according to recent reports.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Tuesday held public hearings on a report on the West Main Street road diet and the Oak-Poplar neighborhood traffic circulation study, as well as proposed safety improvements to Jones Ferry Road.

The report on the Oak-Poplar neighborhood traffic circulation study and the West Main Street road diet, or lane reduction, suggested possible solutions to identified traffic issues, including modifying pavement markings on West Main Street to reduce travel lanes from four to two plus a center turn lane, making Oak Avenue one-way, traffic calming on Oak Avenue and Shelton Street, reconstructing the Shelton/Hillsborough Road/West Main intersection, mid-block pedestrian crossings on West Main and others.

Board members said they supported re-striping West Main Street as part of the road diet in order to slow traffic and said they would like to explore further a possible painted pedestrian island near the intersection of Poplar and West Main. Town staff will draft a preliminary plan for the pavement markings included in the road diet.

In addition, board members asked staff to look into making Oak Avenue one-way, as well as other options that could slow cars traveling on Oak Avenue, like additional speed bumps.

A number of Oak Avenue residents spoke in favor of making safety improvements to the street.

“I have a lot of complaints about the current traffic situation on Oak Avenue,” said resident Jenny McMillan, adding that she would like for the town to consider making the street one-way, since many drivers using it as a cut-through from North Greensboro Street to Weaver Street speed.

“I just think that it’s only going to get worse for us, and right now I’m terrified every time my 10-year-old goes down the street on his bicycle,” she added.

The town’s Transportation Advisory Board recently reviewed the report and requested more time to study it before making official recommendations to the board regarding improvements. However, the TAB did recommend that the town conduct a study on the one-way option for Oak Avenue.

Mayor Mark Chilton said it would be important to consider the impacts of a one-way Oak Avenue on other mill village streets.

“If you make Oak Avenue one-way northbound, then any school traffic that’s currently coming in on Oak Avenue toward Carrboro Elementary is going to have to be shifted around on Shelton Street,” he said.

The board also reviewed a concept plan for safety improvements to the Jones Ferry Road corridor. According to town transportation planner Jeff Brubaker, 20 car accidents occurred at the Jones Ferry/Davie intersection from 2006 to 2011. In addition, the area is of particular concern because the bus stop near Davie at Abbey Court has the highest ridership in Carrboro, with 660 average daily riders.

Possible safety improvements to Jones Ferry include reducing the number of lanes through a road diet, adding medians and left-turn bays and adding new bike lane and sidewalk segments.

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