The Town of North Wilkesboro will hold a public input session to receive feedback on possible traffic calming measures for the town’s “grid” streets. The session will be held Tuesday, Feb. 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Stone Family Center for Performing Arts.
In a press release, the town encouraged all stakeholders—including residents of grid streets and neighborhoods adjacent to grid streets, commuters, commercial drivers, pedestrian/cyclists, and anyone with an interest in traffic matters—to attend.
“The town has been wrestling with this issue for more than a year now,” said Town Manager Wilson Hooper in the release. “We’ve collected data from industry sources, held trials of measures on our own streets, and heard from local law enforcement and first responders. We’ve heard voluntary feedback from residents along the grid. We’re now at the stage where focused input from the users of our grid streets will help inform our next steps.”
The session will use a participatory format, where participants will be asked to comment on possible traffic calming options after considering their pros, cons and costs. There will also be a “community voice station” where participants can share their personal experiences and open-ended feedback.
Hooper continued: “Traffic calming is a perfect example of the trade-offs required in municipal government. One person’s solution may be another person’s headache. And, of course, none of the solutions are free. It is our hope that this session will help us identify common themes that we can consider alongside our other information when developing traffic calming solutions.”
Since 2020 the town has taken the following steps to help manage traffic on grid streets:
• Passed an ordinance prohibiting heavy trucks (Class 6 and above) from traversing grid streets;
• Installed an enhanced “No Thru Trucks” sign out southbound Sparta Rd. before Finley Ave.;
• Installed smaller “No Thru Trucks” signs at all other prominent entrances to “the grid;”
• Earmarked $20,729 in FY21-22 budget for traffic calming research and starter projects;
• Established a multi-disciplinary work team to analyze and, when appropriate, execute traffic calming projects.
This work team has:
• Installed larger, more prominent speed limit signs along Finley Ave.;
• Installed speed limit signs with “Entering Residential Area” warning on westbound Finley Ave. and northbound Sixth St.;
• Tested the effect of a “pinch” on Sixth St.;
• Tested the effect of the presence of the digital speed limit sign on Toll Rd.;
• Tested the effect of speed bumps on Finley Ave.;
• Tested the effect of new stops signs, intersection realignment, and lane narrowing at Sixth/Hinshaw/I St.
• Created a menu, with estimated costs, of a host of traffic calming options for use by the Board of Commissioners.
• Received estimates on the cost of squaring the corner of southbound Sparta Rd. onto Finley ($400,000) and installing a traffic circle at Finley/Hinshaw intersection ($50,000);
• Posted unmanned patrol cars along grid streets to deter violators;
• At random intervals, posted manned patrol cars along grid streets to catch violators;
• Rotated “speed buggy” and digital speed sign throughout the grid to deter speeders; and
• Pulled trucks caught violating the heavy truck prohibition.
Stakeholders who are unable to attend the session may provide feedback via an online survey that will be made publicly accessible after the public meeting.
All attendees of the Feb. 1 session are strongly encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.