Planters on Stanton Avenue / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
Fayetteville residents may soon have a clearer path toward getting the city’s help in reducing speeding in their neighborhoods.
The City Council’s Transportation Committee last week recommended approval of a new traffic calming policy for handling speeding complaints. The document includes guidelines for determining which areas qualify for assistance, prioritizing requests, identifying strategies, designing infrastructure and evaluating whether or not a project actually worked.
Under the proposed policy, requests would be catalogued and categorized into one of three tiers based on the area’s proximity to schools or other significant points of interest (Tier 1), or whether they’re simply obvious cut-throughs for drivers (Tier 2). Streets that do not meet those minimum criteria or that are on dead-end or disconnected streets would be placed in Tier 3, and while they won’t likely be considered for structural additions, they could be considered for enforcement or tactical urbanism permits.
Areas in the top two tiers would need at least 70% approval from the property owners on the street before a study could take place which includes a points system that considers traffic speeds, volume counts, accident history, proximity to a school and whether the street has an existing sidewalk.
Areas that meet a minimum point total would then be ranked and prioritized for recommended changes that could include a variety of solutions, such as adding planters to narrow driving lanes or installing speed cushions to reduce passenger vehicle speeds but that include wheel cutouts to allow larger emergency vehicles to pass unaffected.
Once a solution is presented to the neighbors, at least 60% of property owners must first agree on the design before it’s installed. That’s a key part of the new policy, said City Engineer Chris Brown, who described a recent project on Stanton Avenue that included a series of concrete planters to slow traffic at the request of several people who live on the street.
City staff said that project seemed to have overwhelming support, but once the planters were delivered, many other residents seemed surprised or were upset about the project.
“That was kind of a lesson learned,” said Brown, noting that the new policy adds a level of commitment and if there is a disagreement in the neighborhood, the residents can work that out among themselves.
Council Member Matthew Petty, who chairs the committee, agreed and said people don’t always want to weigh in on a design, but they are likely to have an opinion on the implementation. Requiring a majority of residents to agree on both the need and the strategy could help solve that problem, he said.
Brown said the city already has data on about 30 locations where residents have complained about speeding in the past. Some of the highest-ranking areas include sections of Stubblefield Road, East Oaks Drive, Setter Street, Brooks Avenue and Overcrest Street. All of those streets have a posted speed limit of 25 mph, but have measured speeds of up to 40 mph, according to city documents.
Another 20 streets have had complaints, and would likely be eligible for solutions if residents agreed to proceed with data collection, Brown said.
Projects that are implemented would be evaluated after six months under the proposal. They could be continued if things are going well, or changed if negative impacts are discovered. The measures may also be completely removed after the evaluation period if at least 60% of the property owners in the area sign a petition.
With support from the committee, it’s now up to the full City Council to weigh in on the proposal. That discussion will also include allocating a specific amount of money for projects beginning in 2021.