Committee approves traffic-calming project on East Ash Street

Traffic moves along East Ash Street between Wheeler Avenue and Austin Drive on Tuesday.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

FAYETTEVILLE — The City Council’s Transportation Committee this week approved a proposal for slowing traffic along East Ash Street.

The committee voted 4-0 to authorize the installation of speed cushions at five spots along Ash Street between Rayview Drive and Old Wire Road.

City officials said residents on Ash have for many years complained about speeding cars, and have requested some type of remedy for the problem.

The road has a speed limit of 25 mph, but city traffic data shows an average speed of 33.4 mph with about 2,800 cars passing through the stretch per day.

The street was recently repaved and restriped with narrower lanes, including a 5-foot painted buffer space for sidewalk users on the south side of the road, but a recent traffic study showed no significant reduction in speeds, with maximum speeds exceeding 50 mph at some point during 10 one-hour periods over the course of the 3-day study.

Traffic moves through speed cushions on East Oaks Drive on Tuesday.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

It’s the third project to get the green light since the City Council voted 8-0 to adopt a new traffic-calming policy in March 2021.

Seven sets of speed cushions were installed on East Oaks and Kantz drives last year in east Fayetteville, and a plan for five speed cushions on New Bridge Road in west Fayetteville was approved by the committee in March.

The updated policy has a data points-based system with a lower threshold to prioritize traffic-calming requests, and requires a neighborhood consensus that a solution is needed.

Data points considered for prioritization include speed and daily volume of vehicles on a particular street, whether a sidewalk is present, accident history, and how close a road is to a school.

The city’s new traffic-calming policy includes a points-based system, with the above components.

Source: City of Fayetteville

The minimum threshold for consideration of traffic calming is 35 points. In addition, locations with 85th percentile speeds greater than 35 mph are eligible regardless of the score, and locations with speeds not exceeding 5 mph over the posted speed or below 25 mph are not eligible.

At least 70% of residences on a street where traffic-calming measures are requested must agree to initiate a study, and if the neighborhood meets the proper threshold, 60% of the households must approve the proposed solution.

With the 85th percentile speed being above 35 mph on Ash Street, the neighborhood automatically qualified for traffic calming under the new policy.

Public Works Director Chris Brown said during discussions, there was some concern about installing speed cushions on a street with such high speed and volumes, but the nature of the bolt-down cushions allows some flexibility.

The modular cushions are unlike speed bumps or tables made of concrete, which can impede or damage emergency vehicles, said Brown.

“They are able to be moved around, adjusted or even taken out if necessary,” Brown said.

Committee members said they expect the city will get some complaints from drivers once the cushions are installed, but addressing traffic speed is important.

“I think once we start putting these in I suspect we will get a lot of comments,” said Council member Sarah Bunch, who serves as chair of the committee. “But I think this is a good area to tie into the work we’ve done on Old Wire Road to try and slow traffic.”

Council member Mark Kinion said while he’s not exactly a big fan of speed tables, he agreed with Bunch.

“It is needed,” Kinion said. “People fly up and down through there.”

The estimated cost of the project is $20,380 for the five cushions, according to a memo from Dane Eifling, the city’s mobility coordinator.

Eifling said Tuesday a request for traffic calming on Elizabeth Avenue has not gotten the needed neighborhood support to send that plan to the committee.

Traffic-calming plan for East Ash Street