Traffic Calming Concerns Come Up at Wood Valley Meeting

A plan for a roundabout on the railroad tracks has some wondering about safety but after more than 10 years since residents voted for traffic calming devices to come to Wood Valley streets, neighbors just hope the project comes to fruition.

Margaret Jetton has watched the Wood Valley neighborhood grow for 41 years.

Jetton, 82, a longtime neighborhood coordinator, remembers the initiative more than a decade ago to get traffic calming devices installed. After all, she helped collect many of the signatures.

She said some of the speeding and traffic is down from when neighbors first asked for the measures. Completing the flyovers at US 19 and some speed bumps before and after the railroad tracks have helped keep speeds down on the street, Jetton said.

But after 10 years, are the devices still needed?

“We still have a lot of small children running around the community,” she said.

Drainage, flooding and how a roundabout will work on top of railroad tracks were concerns about 20 neighbors shared with officials looking for feedback from Wood Valley residents during a public meeting about a nearly decade old traffic calming project recently.

The $450,000 plan has been in the works for more than 10 years since neighborhood groups met to talk about speed humps and bumps and other options to slow cars trying to get around US 19 construction.

Originally, the plan was structured financially so that the city could do each project one at a time. Projects were prioritized to be completed in a specific order.

“A few years ago, it was decided that it was taking too long for all the neighborhoods to get their traffic calming, and a decision was made to complete the design for all the remaining projects simultaneously, which is what the city is doing now,” said Heather Parsons, city spokeswoman.

The other two neighborhoods to get traffic calming devices are Hillcrest and Greenlea-Otten, Parsons said. The plan is to do all three projects at once or the other two after Oct. 1, Parsons said.

It still has to get bids and get city council approval. If all that goes as scheduled, the project could start in July and be finished in December, officials said.

The plan calls for speed tables, mini roundabouts and chicanes to slow traffic. A roundabout at the railroad tracks and a traffic separator at the end of Fairwood Avenue are also part of the plan. Which also calls for a mini-roundabout at Calamondin Lane.

Construction of the roundabout would take about two months. The main roundabout at the railroad will be raised about 14 inches to become more level with the tracks which has dips on either side of it.

“It’s a unique situation,” said Himanshu Patni, the project manager in traffic operations. But he said it is not uncommon in other parts of the country.

Thelma Gallardo sat at a table listening, once in awhile asking a question about the more than 10 year old plan. She has concerns about placing a roundabout on the railroad tracks. She also wants the speeding to stop.

“Something has to be done about the racing and traffic,” Gallardo said after the meeting.

Gallardo has seen the chicanes and speed humps in action, driving to the Skycrest and Morningside neighborhoods since traffic calming work there has been completed.

“I can see why people over there complain,” Gallardo said.

Patni said that many complaints have subsided after the projects are complete.

“Overwhelmingly we have not had a problem or more crashes," Patni said.

Jetton sat front and center listening as officials explained the project and fielded questions for more than an hour. She said the neighborhood was supposed to get the devices installed years ago and still is skeptical about the project.

“I’ll have to see them do something first,” Jetton said. “I’ll have to see it to believe it.”

ScottRAB March 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Visit www.iihs.org for FAQs and safety facts. Modern roundbouts are also built near or at railroad crossings all over the world. Salt Lake City has one near the University. Australia has many with light rail running through the middle.
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