Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
The intersection at Dickson and West is set for a redesign sometime next year.
The work is part of the cultural arts corridor project, which includes a complete overhaul of the areas north and south of Dickson Street at the popular West Avenue intersection.
With the 290-space parking lot on the southwest corner scheduled to be redeveloped into a civic gathering space known as the Ramble, city planners want to make sure the intersection is as safe as possible for people who walk across the streets.
“What we’re trying to accomplish at the intersection is to make it as pedestrian-friendly as we possibly can,” Public Works Director Chris Brown told the City Council’s Transportation Committee last week.
Brown said with the civic space on one corner, the Walton Arts Center on a second corner, and a five-story parking deck that will soon begin construction on a third corner, officials are expecting a lot of foot traffic in the coming years.
“So in order for the intersection to be as safe as possible, we’re proposing to reduce the size of it as much as we can,” Brown said.
Early concepts show Dickson Street being reduced to two lanes in both directions at the intersection, which would eliminate the left turn lanes. By removing about 8 feet of the roadway, pedestrians would only need to walk about 22 feet to cross the streets. West Avenue is already a two-lane road at the intersection.
Peter Nierengarten, the city’s environmental director, said the intersection could also be signalized so that all vehicular traffic stops at once to allow pedestrians to walk in any direction, including diagonally from the new deck to the Walton Arts Center.
“That kind of all-way cross would provide an efficient way of getting pedestrians across when there will be high volumes of pedestrians, particularly right before and after a Walton Arts Center show,” Nierengarten said.
Early concept for Dickson-West intersection redesign
Removing the left turn lanes is likely to be contentious with some stakeholders, Brown said, but when looking at traffic patterns, the intersection actually sees its highest levels of traffic late at night and sometimes even after midnight.
Still, officials are considering ways to mitigate the loss of the left turn lanes.
Brown showed a traffic flow map (see below) that could be used as a guide for wayfinding signage and other strategies to change the habits of drivers who normally use the intersection to get around the Dickson Street area.
“The idea is to sort of train people so that when they’re coming to Dickson Street, they don’t actually use Dickson Street,” Brown said. “There are other ways to get to parking areas and places people drive to.”
For example, drivers coming from the north on College Avenue could turn onto Maple Street or Lafayette Street to get to the new parking deck on West Avenue. And drivers coming from the south on College Avenue could use Meadow Street and then Church Avenue to head northwest toward the Spring Street parking deck or southwest toward the Fayetteville Public Library parking deck.
Another thing that will help is that a lot of cars currently headed west on Dickson Street make a left turn on West Avenue to get to the parking lot across from the Walton Arts Center. Once the Ramble project is complete, he said, that lot will no longer exist and cars can instead turn right onto West toward the new deck.
Brown said at this point, it’s all just a big-picture concept and nothing is set in stone. However, the proposed redesign – particularly removing left turns from Dickson onto West – was part of the Fayetteville Mobility Plan that the City Council adopted in August 2018 (see graphic below).
The city plans to continue talking with external stakeholders like the Dickson Street Merchants Association and the Walton Arts Center. Internal stakeholders, such as police and fire officials, will also be part of those discussions, Brown said.