University City

Charlotte to address Scaleybark Road safety

The city of Charlotte wants to make Scaleybark Road safer by lowering the speed limit, narrowing the road and adding other traffic-calming features, Engineering and Property Management staff said last week during a public meeting.

“We heard you: We know there is a speeding problem. We want to try to address that,” said Ashton Watson, engineering project manager. “We have what we think is a good solution for that problem.”

City staff have been working on the Scaleybark Road project since August 2011. The project focuses on the section from Conway Avenue to Woodlawn Road.

During a July 23 public meeting at Collinswood Language Academy, city staff shared renderings of the project with residents.

Elvira Possinger, who lives on Applegate Road, said she has seen traffic worsen over the years as more people have used Scaleybark as a cut-through from Woodlawn to South Boulevard.

“There’s a lot of extra traffic and a lot of people who speed,” she said. “I’m glad the city is going to do something about it.”

One of the major changes will be the elimination of a merging lane on the westbound approach to Scaleybark Road from Woodlawn Road.

“That sets the tone as drivers come onto Scaleybark,” said Watson. “It tells drivers, ‘Pedal to the metal. Let’s go.’”

Once the merging lane is eliminated, drivers will have to slow to make a right turn at the intersection.

The project also calls for lowering the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph for all of Scaleybark Road.

Consultant project manager Lou Raymond said that during a city study, traffic counters found that 81percent of drivers speed on Scaleybark.

The project calls for narrowing the road. Some sections of the road currently are 40 feet wide.

There also are plans for curb extensions, on-street parking areas, landscaped and concrete medians, bicycle lanes in both directions, and completing a sidewalk gap between Belrose Lane and Charlotte Korean Presbyterian Church.

Some residents at the meeting said they are concerned that narrowing the street would mean buses couldn’t pull over to pick up passengers and would stop traffic.

Imad Fakhreddin, senior project manager, said slowing traffic is the goal of the project. But Watson added that he doesn’t anticipate large congestion problems because of the changes.

About 10,000 to 12,000 cars travel the road each day, according to a 2012 traffic study.

There have been three fatal car accidents on Scaleybark since 2007, one in 2011 and a double fatality in 2007. There have not been any other fatalities dating back to 2005, said CMPD spokesman Keith Trietley.

Also, there have been 27 crashes on Scaleybark Road between Conway Avenue and East Woodlawn Road in the last five years, said Nicole Ramsey, communications assistant with Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Resident Ouida Gregory said she is most excited about the beautification aspect of the project, which calls for adding trees and other vegetation to medians.

“I think it’s going to end up being really pretty, like they did with East Boulevard,” she said.

A cost for the project has not been determined, but the city has budgeted $1.6 million.

The city expects to complete right-of-way acquisitions by 2014, with construction between 2014 and 2015.