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Traffic Committee Meeting
- Date: 07/02/2019 9:00 AM
- Location: Blacksburg Police Department
200 Clay St. SW
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
Memorandum Blacksburg Police
To: Traffic Committee Members
From: Kristel Dickerson, Administrative Liaison
Date: June 28, 2019
Subject: Traffic Committee Meeting Agenda – July 2, 2019
The Town of Blacksburg Traffic Committee will meet on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. in the Blacksburg Motor Company, Conference Room #1, located at 400 S. Main Street in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Citizens are always provided the opportunity to voice their views/concerns regarding any item before the Committee. It is the policy of the Traffic Committee to move the agenda item to the beginning of the meeting when citizens are in attendance to avoid detaining guests for the entire meeting. However, citizens are always welcome to stay for the full meeting.
Capital Project: C10412 (820-3101-852.70-99)
- Previous Available Funding:$23,634.01
- July 1, 2019 Credit (FY2019-2020 budget)$15,000.00
Current Total Available Funding: $38,634.01
(balance available to spend in this project to date)
- With the reworking of the North Main Street/460 BYPASS interchange, more traffic is occurring on Sunridge Drive between Chickahominy Drive and Toms Creek. At certain times of the day, if a car is attempting to turn left onto Toms Creek from Sunridge Drive, a substantial back-up can occur; the resident recommended forbidding left hand turns during the evening rush hour. This would have the effect of causing cars to continue up Chickahominy Drive, turn right onto Patrick Henry and then have a signal to make the left onto Toms Creek.
Committee Recommendation from December 2018 Meeting: Tabled for February 2019
This area has been addressed previously from a different standpoint, and the Committee’s reaction remains the same. No action was recommended previously because there are other options and alternate routes that drivers can take. One thought is that the issue lies within drivers trying to avoid the traffic light, when the better choice is to actually use the light. A great deal of the high volume is likely due to commuter traffic. The left hand turns could not be limited only during “evening rush hour”, it would have to be either all of the time, or not at all. This item has come up previously, but there’s not an acceptable, cost efficient solution that wouldn’t have a ripple effect, and it may arise to a greater concern if there weren’t other options only a block away. There have been a few accidents over the years, but not enough to warrant further action. A live traffic count can be conducted after the students return from winter break to get an accurate view of the current situation on Sunridge Drive. Tabled for February 2019
Committee Recommendation from February 2019 Meeting: Tabled for Traffic Count
This item tabled to obtain live traffic count. Tabled for Traffic Count
Committee Recommendation from March 2019 Meeting: Tabled for Traffic Count
A live traffic count has been attempted on two occasions, but neither returned substantial data. Another attempt will be made. Tabled for Traffic Count
Committee Recommendation from April 2019 Meeting: Tabled for Traffic Count
The individual who was initially assigned to conduct the traffic count has been reassigned. Task will need to be re-delegated. Tabled for Traffic Count
Committee Recommendation from May 2019 Meeting: Tabled for Traffic Count
The Police Department personnel originally intended for this task have been re-assigned at this time. Tabled for Traffic Count
Committee Recommendation from June 2019 Meeting: Tabled for Traffic Count/Rezoning
The majority of Virginia Tech students have now left town on summer break, so any data collected at this point in time would not be an accurate reflection of the typical traffic in this area. A rezoning application goes to Town Council on June 11th, and if approved, traffic will be reconfigured at Sunridge Drive. Tabled for Traffic Count/Rezoning
- A concern has been received, most recently in the Town Manager’s Office, and initially in the Police Department, from Kathy Huser regarding the intersection of S. Main Street and Hubbard Street.She witnessed a motor vehicle crash in this location, and has a list of items she feels contributed to the incident, including what she feels is a dangerous right turn on red.At the February 2019 meeting, the Committee added her correspondence as additional business, and at that time agreed to the installation of signage (see below).However, Ms. Huser has also reached out to the Town Manager’s Office and it is requested that this item be added officially to the agenda for Traffic Committee to conduct a general review of the intersection.
Committee Recommendation from February 2019 Meeting: Signage Recommended
Ms. Huser witnessed a serious accident and has several concerns and suggestions for how this intersection should be improved. It’s important to note, however, that the characteristics of the intersection were in no way a contributing factor to the circumstances of the accident. Her ideas include enforcing a no right turn on red, moving the signal box, adjusting the stop lines, and enforcing no U-turns if heading north on Main Street. All of her concerns have been previously considered and addressed as part the Traffic Committee’s recommendation to reconfigure the lanes at this intersection with pavement markings in September of 2016. At today’s meeting the Committee took another look at signage and agreed that a sign on the Ellet side indicating which lane to get into once the lane splits could be an additional proactive effort at this intersection. The sign will indicate right lane, right turn only and middle lane, left turn/straight through combined. The Committee agrees to move forward with the signage immediately. Signage Recommended
Committee Recommendation from March 2019 Meeting: Tabled for April 2019 Meeting
Ms. Huser was present for the meeting, and presented her concerns, along with a handout, to the Committee. She met with Chris Lawrence in the Town Manager’s Office previously, and he encouraged her to bring the item before Traffic Committee so she will have the opportunity to voice her concerns before the group. Each of her points has been considered individually in the past, but it is requested that the Committee review the intersection as a whole. She has three main suggestions for improvement at this intersection, which are as follows: 1.) no right turn on red off Hubbard 2.) relocate traffic signal box at corner of Hubbard/S. Main and adjust stop lines/pedestrian crosswalk 3.) prohibit south to north U-turns on Main. She fears the vehicles coming off the blind curve on Ellet approaching the intersection with a leading green cannot see or be seen by the vehicles coming off Hubbard on their right turn on red. Then drivers going S. on Main Street making a U-turn back to point north present an unknown conflict in the intersection. She also feels that the stainless steel traffic control box occludes the line of sight for drivers coming off Hubbard who stop behind the pedestrian crossing lines. We have very aggressive, inexperienced drivers, and the ultimate question is how we design an intersection around bad driver behavior if drivers are not coming to a complete stop and assessing the situation before making the right on red. The accidents that have happened in this location have not been attributable to the characteristics of the intersection. Her observation is that Main Street is too friendly for drivers attempting to avoid the recent backups at the Southgate traffic circles, so she suggests making Main Street more congested to deter the extra traffic, but then that traffic will just be pushed out into the neighborhoods, which creates new concerns. The intersection was recently reconfigured to allow the right on red to cut down on backups on Hubbard and Ellet, so it’s not feasible to remove the right on red, therefore re-creating backups, and the traffic control signal box is not moveable. The Committee, however, did discuss the protocol for lane guides, which would be dotted lines that guide cars to stay in the left lane instead of shooting over to the right lane while maneuvering the turn. Ultimately, prohibiting the U-turn would only effect certain businesses in one small area, which includes TNT Property Management, Hot Rod Tattoo, and Brian’s Lock & Key, and if action is taken, this would likely be the first point to be addressed. In conclusion, the Committee agrees that Lt. Goad will make a site visit to speak with the businesses effected to obtain their feedback, the possibility of lane markings will be further explored, Public Works will keep a check on overgrown vegetation, and Erik Olsen will obtain ridership data for this area. Tabled for April 2019 Meeting
Committee Recommendation from April 2019 Meeting: Tabled for May 2019 Meeting
Lt. Goad attempted contact with the three businesses that would be most affected by prohibiting the south to north U-turn on Main at the Hubbard intersection. Business cards were left at TNT Property Management, Hot Rod Tattoo, and Brian’s Lock & Key. Erik Olsen with BT provided ridership numbers for the nearby bus stop at Main/King SB #1648 for April 2018 and September 2018. Those numbers are as follows: April 2018: boardings = 5.65, alightings = 184.40, September 2018: boardings = 9.03, alightings = 102.10; it is estimated that 60% of these riders use the traffic light at First and Main to cross, and the users are comprised of a mixture of demographics. Follow-up with the three businesses effected by the potential change will be attempted. Potential effects of pushing the U-turn further down Main Street (ex. at King Street intersection) should be considered. Tabled for May 2019 Meeting
Committee Recommendation from May 2019 Meeting: Tabled for June 2019 Meeting
Lt. Goad made an in-person visit to the businesses that would be most affected by the proposed change, and the idea of prohibiting the south to north U-turn on Main at the Hubbard intersection was not well received. TNT Flinchum Property Management was especially apprehensive because their work crews, who make multiple trips in and out a day, would be significantly affected, as would the Brian’s Lock and Key employees. University Opticians did not have an opinion either way, and no one was available at Hot Rod Tattoo. While this would be the most feasible action for improvement, two business voiced significant dissent. Paint on the pavement to preserve lane integrity was also suggested, and Public Works reports that this area will be on VDOT’s list to be resurfaced soon. There is also the possibility of installing a sign on Hubbard indicating traffic making a right on red must yield to the U-turns on Main Street, and there is a standard, MUTCD-approved sign available (R10-30). Lt. Goad will send a formal request out to the four businesses requesting their official input, and depending on how strong the opposition, the sign can be further considered as an alternative. Tabled for June 2019 Meeting
Committee Recommendation from June 2019 Meeting: Tabled for July 2019 Meeting
Formal letters were mailed to the four businesses two weeks ago. As of the time of this meeting, zero formal responses have been received. The Committee agrees to give the businesses until the time of the next meeting to respond. Tabled for July 2019 Meeting
- A request has been received from Scott McDonald, a VT Engineering student and resident of The Edge, for a 4-way stop at the intersection of Webb Street and Orchard Street.The correspondence follows:
“I am a senior engineering student at Virginia Tech and live at The Edge Apartment Complex. I would specifically like to bring a dangerous intersection to attention. This is the intersection of Webb Street and Orchard Street. There are currently only 2 stop signs and I believe this should become a 4 way stop. I have witnessed several near-collisions and even been a part of one myself. There is currently poor visibility to view cars driving along Webb street and I believe adding stop signs at all entrances of this intersection will increase safety and reduce the likelihood of a collision.”
Committee Recommendation from June 2019 Meeting: Tabled for July 2019 Meeting
Lt. Goad will pull the crash stats from this intersection, but it is unlikely that it will meet the threshold for volume and number of crashes to warrant a 4-way stop. Lt. Goad and Norman Elliott from Public Works will conduct a site visit to assess parking and insure yellow curbing is in place to protect sight distance at the intersection. Parking Services will also be deployed to this area for extra enforcement. Tabled for July 2019 Meeting
- BT has requested that Traffic Committee consider the light pole at the corner of Roanoke and Main Street for removal.A summary of their concern follows:
Light pole at Roanoke and Main- The small light pole located on the corner of Roanoke and Main is unique in its placement within the Town. I can find no other post located as close to the street corner as this one and it just so happens to be the only one located in an area where we have had the majority of our “in town” collisions and a number of large commercial vehicles have to make the very same turn. The pole itself was there prior to the newer signal poles with street lamps were installed and indeed served a lighting purpose. At this time it now is relegated to the aspect of aesthetic and quite frankly more problematic than helpful. The lamp and corresponding raised pole bricking are directly located within the “roll-pad” of the corner on the sidewalk. These depressed areas at the end of the walk not only serve the purpose of ADA access onto the street for the crosswalk, they also serve as a way for commercial and oversized vehicles to safely roll their rear wheels on and off of the curbing so as not to damage tires/wheels and concrete. This pole placement does not allow this to occur and in fact hinders such a maneuver and cause a much greater problem for ANY large vehicle in that they must now over-extend into oncoming traffic and increase the risk of head-on collision and/or the blocking of the major intersection connecting the whole of downtown. We of course ask that this pole be removed and the bricking area underneath be lowered to the angle of the rest of the pad. There is more than enough lighting provided by the large street lamp above it and the pedestrian crosswalk head and buttons are not located on it.
Committee Recommendation from June 2019 Meeting: Tabled for July 2019 Meeting
The Committee discussed this intersection, and noted that if this light were to be removed, there would still be light available via other fixtures in the area. It was explained that this is a very challenging intersection in which to turn a 35-ft bus, and when the hanging baskets were in place it was even more difficult. The curb is designed to mount and go, but with the light pole in place the bus driver is forced to swing way out to avoid it. It was noted, however, that there are a great deal of utilities in place, and to move the pole would be a challenge, and to remove it would be a major project. Lt. Goad will pull data on the number of incidences at this intersection involving the pole, and BT will also query their data as well. Tabled for July 2019 Meeting
- The Town of Blacksburg Planning & Engineering Department, along with the Town Manager’s Office, has requested that Traffic Committee review options for removal of the roundabout at the intersection of Broce Drive and Elizabeth Lane.Two options have been presented to the neighborhood, and they are as follows:
Option 1: removal of the roundabout and tightening up the curb lines at the intersection
Option 2: removal of the roundabout, installing splitter islands and tightening up the curb line at the intersection
The Committee is asked to review the options, as well as the results from the neighborhood survey, and make its recommendation to the Town Manager so that Public Works can proceed with the chosen option since Broce Drive is on the paving list for this summer. A total of 18 neighborhood residents responded to the survey, with 8 voting for option one, 7 voting for option two, and 3 choosing neither option.
- A request has been received from a representative of Reliant Group Management regarding site development plans for the upcoming Terrace View redevelopment project.They are proposing improvements to Hunt Club Drive and Snyder Lane, which are public streets within the development.The site development plan requests that the existing 25 mph speed limit on the entire length of these two streets be decreased to 15 mph.Given their plans for a roundabout, on-street parking, an anticipated increase in pedestrian and bike traffic, and in consideration of sight distance, this formal request is made.(letter)
- Dean Crane, Director of the Town of Blacksburg Parks and Recreation Department, has requested Traffic Committee consider no parking signage for the part of Linwood Lane where the new section of the Huckleberry Trail crosses.Construction has recently been completed, and people are parking in neighbors’ yards as well as on the road.The Town has parking available at Heritage Park, which should also be utilized by the Huckleberry Trail patrons.
- A concern has been received from James Bilowus regarding safety at the crosswalk on S. Main at Eheart due to drivers not observing the 35 mph to 25 mph speed transition at S. Main and Hemlock.His correspondence follows:
“In the 4.5 years that I’ve lived in Blacksburg, I’ve not felt safe crossing in the crosswalk at S. Main and Eheart (even with the new flashing lights, people are going too fast to slow down in time). And even merging on to S. Main street in my own vehicle due to traffic exceeding the posted speed limit after the northbound 35-25mph transition at Hemlock Dr. and S. Main. I don’t think the speed limit signs are very noticeable as I sometimes even see marked police cars continue at speed, without their blue or brake lights on, until they reach the Blacksburg motor company. I also constantly see cars accelerating above the posted speed limit when they are headed southbound on main street and pass the Blacksburg Motor Company. It makes crossing the street very intimidating and I’ve had several near misses from people almost hitting me in the crosswalk because they’re simply going too fast. I would like to propose that the Northbound S. Main and Hemlock speed limit sign be changed to a flashing sign with built in radar to visually alert people that there’s a speed change and they should slow down. I would also like to propose that a similar sign be posted ~100’ south of Miller & Southbound S. Main. I think at least changing the one at S. Main and Hemlock will really make my neighborhood safer.”
- An At-Your-Request submission has been received regarding parking in the 1700-block of Boxwood Drive.There is a question whether signage is adequate enough to denote no parking on the north side of the road.
NEXT MEETING DATE: The next Traffic Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at 9:00 am in the Blacksburg Motor Company, Conference Room #1, located at 400 S. Main Street in Blacksburg, Virginia.