Madison Park residents concerned with pedestrian safety at a busy neighborhood intersection hope transportation officials will make improvements “sooner rather than later.”But until a funding source has been identified, Charlotte Department of Transportation officials say, they can’t predict when they’ll be able to make changes.Madison Park residents say the intersection of Seneca Place and Wedgewood Drive experiences heavy foot traffic due to its proximity to Pinewood Elementary School, Madison Central Park and the Wedgewood Farmers Market; however, the intersection has no painted crosswalks and no signs alerting motorists to crossing pedestrians and cyclists. Homeowner Association President Martin Doss said motorists, pedestrians and cyclists have difficulty on all sides of the intersection seeing what may be coming, due to the roads’ curves and hilly topography.Additionally, Seneca Place includes separate parking and bike lanes, as well as the traffic lane on each side of the road, creating a wide intersection conducive to speeding, Doss said. Compounded by a high volume of traffic, residents believe the intersection is an accident waiting to happen.“When you’ve got wide-open roads, people tend to speed, regardless of the posted signs,” said Doss, noting speed humps on Seneca Place do little to keep motorists at the 30 mph posted speed limit.Wedgewood Drive – which crosses Seneca running down a hill – has stop signs at the intersection, but Seneca Place, the busier connector, does not. HOA Vice President Jo Ann Means said the association has been told by transportation officials that stop signs wouldn’t be effective there due to limited visibility.Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Lt. Tom Gwaltney of the Westover Division said a traffic study earlier this year showed 2,500 vehicles per day travel Seneca Place, a residential road. “A lot of people use Seneca as a cut-through from South Boulevard to Park Road,” he said.Means and Doss, among others, have been working with residents and CDOT for almost two years for a solution. Of the 2,350 homes in the neighborhood, Means said, there’s been “overwhelming” resident concern.“Whether they signed a petition, or talked (to HOA members), or brought it up in neighborhood meetings or online, people want something done with that intersection,” Means said.Linda Durrett, Communications and Public Relations manager for CDOT, said the intersection is on the department’s list of projects. “However, no funding has been identified for this work. The (capital improvement project) budget is currently being reviewed, and it’s possible that may affect the process. It may be six months before more information is available,” she said in an email.While CDOT’s Safety Committee is reviewing the intersection, Durrett said, much of the analysis and recommendations are contingent upon engineering work that also requires funding. She noted that because “the exact nature of the improvements” to the intersection aren’t known at this time, the department can’t estimate needed funding. Doss said the HOA and residents have pitched solutions that would slow traffic and improve safety, ranging from an all-way stop to adding concrete pedestrian medians or building out sidewalks into the existing right of way to narrow and straighten the roads.Durrett said the department can’t identify the best solution till funding has been found. “The Safety Committee is examining the situation … they can’t recommend (the best solution) until further work is done,” she said. “Everything comes back to funding availability.”Madison Park resident Lisa Charde has lived on Seneca Place for nearly five years. Her husband is an active cyclist, and she takes their children, ages 2 and 6, to Madison Central Park almost daily. They also visit the farmers market twice a week.In their pedestrian travels around the neighborhood, Charde said, she’s almost been hit twice while crossing that intersection.“One time I had both kids with me,” she said, saying she was so shaken by the experience they abandoned plans to go to the park and went home instead. “I’m sure we shook (the driver) up, too. … It’s not that people are bad drivers, they’re just not expecting (pedestrians there),” Charde said.She and her family have applauded Charlotte’s efforts to make the city more pedestrian and bike-friendly, such as the bike lanes in their neighborhood, and feel improvements to Seneca and Wedgewood would align perfectly with that vision.“There would be so many things to do to make it better with a minimal amount of money,” Charde said, adding she’d be happy with a well-hatched crosswalk painted on the asphalt. “Just get the paint truck out there.”Means said residents won’t give up on the project, whatever solution officials determine is best. “If they can’t slow traffic down, they need to make it safer,” she said.
Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013
Madison Park residents worried about pedestrian safety
Trenda: 704-358-5089 Twitter: @htrenda
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less