By MIKE WILLIAMS
Expect driving in downtown Pulaski to become a very different experience in the not-too-distant future.
With a pending water line replacement project downtown coming in the fall, West Main Street will be torn up for the work. That will necessitate two-way traffic at least temporarily on Third Street.
That water line replacement will bring with it new Main Street paving, striping and sidewalks.
Town Manager Darlene Burcham told council previously the project will present an opportunity for them to make changes downtown – specifically returning to two-way traffic on Main and Third if they desire. It will also give council an opportunity to explore changing parking downtown – going from parking as it is now or changing to angled parking such as is found in Wytheville.
Burcham has also suggested in the past the signal lights in downtown likely are not necessary now, considering the amount of traffic downtown. She has expressed the opinion that four-way stops at downtown intersections that currently have traffic signals might work better and actually be safer.
With all this in mind, the town contracted with Ramey Kemp Associates and McGill and Associates on both a speed study and a two-way traffic conversion analysis.
Mike Norris of McGill and Joe Wallace of Ramey Kemp presented the results of those studies to town council on Tuesday.
The speed study was to evaluate the existing travel speeds of drivers on East Main Street (Route 99), Washington Avenue (Route 11) and Route 611 (Bob White Boulevard) to determine if speed limit modifications are appropriate.
Traffic speed and volume data was collected for seven days in May of this year while schools were in session at six locations:
- East Main Street between Union Avenue and Newbern Road
- East Main Street east of Xaloy Way
- Washington Avenue south of Main Street
- Route 11 north of Windsor Avenue
- Bob White Boulevard between Monte Vista Drive and Medallion Drive
- Bob White Boulevard between Hedgerow Lane and Longview Road
The study concluded that generally, as drivers approach the downtown portion of Pulaski, there is reasonable compliance with the posted speed limits.
However, the study recommended that a transitional speed limit of 45 mph be placed on Route 99 in the area of the new mountain bike park at the Dora Highway intersection.
Currently, traffic coming into town on that route goes from 55 to 35 at the base of the hill just before the traffic light at the intersection of Bob White Boulevard.
Burcham said there has also been talk among staff of the need to post a town-wide 35 mph limit.
The two-way traffic study involved determining the feasibility of converting Third Street and Second Street (Main Street) from one-way traffic to two-way between Jefferson Avenue and Duncan Avenue. As part of the study, the existing traffic control was also evaluated.
The study found that converting traffic to two-way on Third and Main is operationally feasible. The study also found that converting the signalized intersections downtown to all-way stop controlled intersections could decrease the overall intersection delays and improve traffic flow.
The study also found that the intersection of East Main, Third and Duncan – known by locals as the “Y” – could operate at favorable levels of service as a two-way stop-controlled intersection or as a roundabout intersection.
The study results noted installing a roundabout at the intersection may require additional right-of-way from adjacent properties.
Council will take up the speed and two-way traffic issues at its next meeting on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. She said staff would make sure council is prepared to hold a discussion on the issues at the meeting and would prepare a draft of plans for council to view prior to.
Burcham urged council in the meantime to let her know of any questions or ideas on traffic before the meeting.