Thursday, June 16, 2016

#DavidsonConcordSpeedway - Citizen pressure works to get the right things done.

The first major topic at Tuesday night's marathon Davidson Board meeting was an update from NCDOT on safety improvements.

The update from Division 10 Engineer Scott Cole began with informing the town that the crossing signals in downtown David son were being set to use a 3 second LPI or Leading Pedestrian Interval to allow pedestrians to cross before cars get a green light.

This change comes after the tragedy on Main Street where local resident Janet McFadden was struck and killed in the crosswalk by Flatiron restaurant.

An LPI of 3 seconds, should reduce accidents by 60% and reduce the severity of any that do occur according to Cole.  The obvious question of why not make it 5 or 6 seconds to make it even safer was not made clear.  However, this is definitely an improvement and one that was to go into effect immediately.  In fact NCDOT workers could be seen working on the lights at almost 10pm Tuesday night.

But the real show on pedestrian safety had to do with the Davidson-Concord Speedway.

We told you about the press release last Friday where NCDOT planned to lower the speed on "the DCS" to 45 for the whole length of the road.  We also told you that did not address the most dangerous part of the road for pedestrians.  We told you local residents would not be happy about that, or safety improvements being tied to Commissioner Brian Jenest's development at West Branch.

They weren't.

During the public comment section a parade of people came up to implore NCDOT to lower the speed limit and to lower it now!

Starting with Don and Jennifer Stewart whose son was hit at the Robert Walker intersection three years ago and running through more several speakers, one after another residents recounted stories of near misses, increasing traffic, and anecdotes proving why lower speed will work to make it safer.

One speaker roped in Police Chief Jeanne Miller who was in attendance.  Chief Miller agreed with the residents that she wanted it to be 35 on that road.

Another speaker recounted how he had just returned from New York City where the city has made the entire city 25mph if you are not on a highway.  The change wasn't phased in over time apparently.  It was done to save lives and pedestrian fatalities are down significantly.

But the highlight was resident Jana Watt who has been one of the citizen leaders in the recent push to get this situation fixed.  Watt gave one of the best citizen presentations at a public forum you will ever see.  You are strongly urged to watch this video.  Its about 9 minutes.

Click HERE for video.

Watt dismantled pretty much any and all arguments for not lowering the speed limit in the pedestrian area now.  She raised lots of questions about who is representing who between the town, developers, and NCDOT when it comes to development.  She repeatedly mentioned public records requests.

It was brutal and it was beautiful to watch at the same time.

When the public hearing was over, the tide had turned.  After a few questions from Commissioners and in what genuinely seemed like a surprise move to the Board, Cole agreed to lowering the speed with increased enforcement from the town.

The timing and exact details of the change are still being verified.  Check back for another post on that hopefully by the end of the week.

Others deserve credit for this change as well.  Rep John Bradford and Davidson Mayor Pro Tem Beth Cashion in particular.

No comments:

Post a Comment