On Thursday afternoon, the committee voted unanimously in favor of proposed alterations that included changing Franklin Avenue to a one-way street and adjusting the nearby intersection of Franklin and East Main Street to accommodate a heavier flow of traffic.
Though no one on the committee opposed the proposition, it will need to receive final approval from the town’s board of mayor and aldermen before any alterations to the streets or intersection will begin. After the meeting, Todd Wood, who serves as the town’s engineering consultant, said more plans needed to be made before any construction would begin.
“They (the traffic committee) are just making a recommendation to the board of mayor and aldermen,” Wood said. “What they approved today was the concept of going one-way up versus one-way down.”
The proposal suggested that traffic flow up Franklin Avenue in a northeasterly direction — which would travel uphill — with the only point of entry coming from Spring Street, to the south. Though southwesterly travel would be eliminated, Wood said the changes would be made in response to a growing need for parking for the McKinney Center.
“When there’s not enough parking at the McKinney Center, they’ve had people parking out on Main Street,” Wood said. “It’s very unsafe. So they’re trying to find a way to add more parking to the site itself, but also to Franklin, and make it safe for everybody entering and exiting all the streets and the McKinney Center.”
Safety becomes more of a concern, however, as that traffic moves northeast to intersect with East Main Street. The McKinney Center parking lot entrance/exit runs perpendicular to East Main, but it intersects at the same point that Franklin Avenue does, with Franklin connecting from the southwest and the McKinney Center lot connecting from the south. Because of that congested point-of-entry, Wood said, vehicles that try to enter the McKinney Center from East Main Street may inadvertently cause a traffic hazard.
“It’s unsafe right now because you’ve got cars coming up the hill and cars coming across,” Wood said. “The cars coming up the hill have the right-of-way, but the ones coming off of Main Street sometimes forget that, and there’s not enough room — not enough time — to make a decision.”
In addition to those concerns, visibility is also limited because of a tree at the corner of Franklin and East Main. During the meeting, Town Administrator Bob Browning said limited visibility also factored into the proposal.
“If somebody’s not paying attention and they cut around that corner and they’re going too fast, the person on Franklin, who could be paying attention, may still not have control depending on how they come around,” Browning said. “It’s just hard to see. Slowing them down was a big issue from a safety standpoint.”
In an effort to slow the flow of traffic, the proposal recommended installing an additional stop sign near the area where the McKinney Center’s lot would intersect with Franklin Avenue. Although a stop sign is already in place at the intersection of Franklin and East Main, Wood said the additional stop sign could help make traffic flow more safely.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Wood said. “The town is trying to be proactive in thinking ahead and asking what they can do to prevent an accident instead of waiting for one to occur.”
Committee member Jimmy Rhein made the motion, which would ultimately be unanimously approved, to recommend this phase of the project to the board of mayor and aldermen.