Saturday, June 11, 2016

#DavidsonConcordSpeedway - Lower speed while leaving pedestrians at increased risk

Three weeks ago, NCDOT State Engineer, Kevin Lacy, with the Transportation Mobility and Safety Division travelled to Davidson.  He spent a Sunday afternoon and the better part of Monday looking at the situation along Davidson-Concord Road, meeting with residents, and discussing the local officials.

This was the trip we reported on immediately after the May Town Board meeting.  Rep John Bradford deserves the credit for making this trip happen from speaking with those familiar with its details.  It appears getting state legislators involved was the correct path all along over these many years to get this issue moving.  Leaving citizens to wonder why the Town had not done that previously.

Yesterday afternoon, NCDOT issued a press release outlining plans to reduce the speed on Davidson-Concord Road.

That sounds like great news.  That sounds like it should appease local residents who packed Davidson Town Hall last month. Right???

Unfortunately, the "devil is in the details" and that's particularly true for the most dangerous section of the road for pedestrians.

Read the press release below...

NCDOT Reducing Speed Limit Along Portion of Davidson-Concord Road

CHARLOTTE – The N.C. Department of Transportation is reducing the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph along a portion of Davidson-Concord Road in Davidson. 

After further review, the NCDOT determined that 45 mph is a safe and reasonable speed along Davidson-Concord road from south of Robert Walker Drive to N.C. 73. NCDOT crews will change the speed limit signs in that area on Thursday, June 16. The new speed limit becomes effective once the updated signs are installed. 

The Department is also planning a future reduction of the speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph along Davidson-Concord Road from south of Robert Walker Drive to the roundabout. The speed limit change will be implemented once the new residential development in that area is 25 percent occupied. On-street parking along this section of Davidson-Concord Road will be implemented with the commercial aspects of the development. 

Readers will remember that the current swirl around the speeds on this road came up when aShortChronicle published the traumatizing videos in this piece back in April.  Those videos were taken in the area which will not have the speed lowered immediately.  The plan presented in this press release leaves those children crossing the street at the exact same risk they are today - potentially for years.

What is even more perplexing is the arbitrary selection of 25% buildout on West Branch as the magic number for improving safety.  That equates to about 77 houses.    Yes, adding 77 houses will make it worse, but that entirely misses the point.

The intersection of Robert Walker and Davidson-Concord is terribly unsafe now.  The speed needs to be lowered there now.

Arbitrarily waiting potentially as long as another 18 month to 2 years (maybe longer) before this is improved will very likely be seen as unacceptable to residents.  It is inviting tragedy.

Just as disturbingly is how the town has allowed this issue to be convoluted with a development they've supported, a development involving a sitting Commissioner  (Brian Jenest),  and one that has received multiple special land/zoning related approvals.

NCDOT will be at the Tuesday Board meeting at Davidson Town Hall.  The public comment and presentation are at the top of the agenda.  Plan on attending at 6pm.

Hopefully, there is more to this plan that will be presented then to make it acceptable.

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