City to explore Block Avenue design tweaks

Although city staff says that no changes need to be made to the Block Avenue enhancement plan, members of Fayetteville’s Street Committee want to make some tweaks and have asked that the rest of the street configurations be outlined in chalk before any permanent work is done.

Members of the committee last month expressed safety concerns over the narrow width of the driving lane in the first completed section of the street and asked city staff to bring forth some design change options. “I don’t think you’re ever going to see an emergency vehicle going fast on Block,” said committee member Bobby Ferrell.

During a special meeting last week, staff outlined some possible changes, but did not suggest moving forward with any of them.

“The goals of the project that were stated at the start have been accomplished and because of that, we’re not making any recommendations for changes in the design,” said city engineer Chris Brown. “We think the design is adequate and while there’s not a lot of excess space out there, there is enough space for all users.”

Fire Chief David Dayringer addressed the committee at the request of Mayor Lioneld Jordan and confirmed that the city’s fire engines can indeed navigate the street and that all of the engines have been tested on Block Avenue. “We took the fire trucks – all of the big ones that we have – and drove up and down the street, made the turns, and projected how we’d handle different emergencies in that area,” said Dayringer. “We can get around where we need to.”

With safety issues seemingly put to rest, the committee heard from members of the public who expressed all sorts of concerns. However, the only things that gained any traction were concerns over the lack of adequate delivery vehicle loading zones and the continued frustration over back-in parking.

With that, the committee asked for the following from city staff: 1) Chalk out the rest of the street to see if the plan actually works before doing anything permanent, 2) Switch the one remaining back-in parking section to pull-in parking to address complaints, and 3) Revisit the completed and planned parallel parking spaces to see if any of them can be removed to free up space for delivery vehicles.

In other words, tweaks will be made, but don’t expect to see any major design changes on Block Avenue.