FAYETTEVILLE — Drivers will soon notice more speed cushions around town.
The City Council’s Transportation Committee last week approved a proposal for slowing traffic on Stubblefield Road, Harold Street and Sang Avenue.
The traffic-calming projects are some of the first to get a green light since the City Council voted 8-0 to adopt a new policy in March 2021.
Seven sets of speed cushions were installed on East Oaks and Kantz drives last year in east Fayetteville. Cushions on New Bridge Road and East Ash Street were also approved.
The updated policy has a data points-based system 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 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 that threshold, 60% of the households must approve the proposed solution.
Devices will be installed in pairs – one in each lane – for most of the project areas.
Four cushions are planned in two locations on Stubblefield Road between Summerhill Drive and Picadilly Lane.
Stubblefield scored 41 points on the traffic-calming matrix. The road has a speed limit of 25 mph, with about 1,600 cars passing through the stretch per day. A recent traffic study showed an 85th percentile speed of 33.1 mph and a maximum recorded speed of 57 mph.
“It’s one of the highest-scoring streets of all the requested streets in terms of the matrix, and we got full support from the neighborhood,” said Dane Eifling, the city’s mobility coordinator.
Three cushions are planned on Harold – two in each lane between Lee and Sheryl avenues, and one for eastbound traffic at the curve in the road where Harold intersects with Stubblefield.
Public Works Director Chris Brown said westbound drivers sometimes use the eastbound lane to bypass the median at high speeds through the intersection which creates a dangerous situation. A speed cushion in the eastbound lane might help, he said.
Harold scored 48.5 on the matrix. Nearly 2,000 cars travel along that section each day, which has a speed limit of 25 mph. The 85th percentile speed on Harold is 35 mph and the top speed recorded was 61 mph.
Councilmember Sarah Bunch, who represents east Fayetteville and serves as chair of the committee, said she’s noticed a lot of unsafe driving along Harold.
“I think this is where most of the speeding goes on,” said Bunch.
Adding cushions in most areas on Sang goes against the city’s policy, which does not allow traffic-calming measures on high-traffic streets that are classified as neighborhood links, said Brown. However, exceptions are made for areas within a school zone, so the plan is to place four cushions on Sang near Asbell Elementary School – one pair south of Lawson Street and another pair north of Skyler Drive.
Brown said the idea is to slow vehicles that are approaching the two crosswalks that students use when walking back and forth to school.
Sang has an 85th percentile speed of 36 mph, so it automatically qualified for traffic calming under the new policy. It has a speed limit of 25 mph and scored 64.8 points on the matrix.
Residents in the neighborhood have requested more cushions be installed on Sang, particularly in the area south of the school near Wedington Drive. Eifling said because the city’s policy won’t allow cushions outside of the school zone, the plan is to start with just the four cushions by the school and then monitor speeds.
Bunch said she also would prefer that approach over making a policy change before any cushions are installed.
Sometimes, requests for traffic calming are the result of a lack of quality sidewalks, Eifling said.
The sidewalks along Sang are old and narrow, he said. And in some places, mailboxes and utility poles further reduce the width.
“That makes the pedestrian experience pretty poor,” said Eifling.
Bunch and Councilmember Holly Hertzberg said it would be wise to fast-track a proposal for new sidewalks in the area, and each asked Brown to consider adding Sang Avenue to the city’s annual list of sidewalk improvement projects.
“I know we have a long list of sidewalk needs, but if we really want to put our money where our mouth is, we need to focus on the schools,” said Bunch.