Town intersection improvements on schedule
North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plans to improve five intersections in town are on schedule, with right of way agreements having begun this fall.
The projects are scheduled to be ready to begin in October 2019 with construction beginning as early as November 2019.
The following intersections in STIP project R-5843 are: Slope Street at Bryson Walk, Bryson Walk at Everett Street, Everett Street at Depot Street, Ramseur Street at Depot Street and Ramseur Street at Deep Creek Road.
DOT held an Open House Public Meeting September 2017, when they unveiled plans to improve the five intersections and then came to a decision on each plan after public input and input from local government.
Slope & Bryson Walk
A roundabout was being considered at the intersection that now has a flashing yellow light on Bryson Walk and stop signs on Slope Street. Scott Miller, DOT project manager, said it’s no longer in the plans.
“The city administrators at the time were proponents of it, but once they saw the impact with some of the businesses, they urged us to not go with a roundabout. It will be a traditional intersection, and it will still have the flashing light as it currently does.”
Although DOT discussed changing the stop signs to go on Bryson Walk instead, concern arose over how that might add confusion for long-term residents who may have it ingrained as to how the intersection works, he said.
“In terms of flow, it will remain the same,” Miller said. “The biggest improvements are addition of sidewalk, and the radius on each of the four corners will be greatly improved, and anytime you improve the radius you improve the visibility and navigation.”
Depot & Everett Street
A traffic light is planned for the intersection of Depot and Everett Streets. Improvements are also planned for Everett Street between Depot and Mitchell Streets, where a raised, landscaped median will go in as well as a drop off area, which will go in where traffic used to turn into Fry Street.
Earlier this year, Bryson City town board of aldermen gave up the right of way on Fry Street. Now, DOT plans include a drop off area.
Miller explained, “The railroad requested a drop off coming into where the Fry Street area is. We were fine with that because we felt, given the fact it is a big tourist destination and you have a lot of drop offs there, it would help the contiguous flow of traffic through that area to have that drop off circle, so it was implemented.”
The plans are meant to also alleviate some of the safety concerns regarding pedestrian traffic. In the drawing, the plans include one designated crosswalk area on the block.
“The island that was added will also help the pedestrian traffic because what your curbed islands do is provide a haven for pedestrians as they cross the street, and it gives them a place to stand in the event they should have to stop,” Miller said.
Ideally, pedestrians will use the crosswalk that will be clearly marked.
Miller didn’t provide a specific number for the loss of parking spaces on Everett Street with the plans. He did estimate the loss of a few spaces on the right side of Everett Street with 5-6 remaining.
Bryson Walk & Everett
Some parking spaces will also be removed at Bryson Walk and Everett Street to improve that intersection.
“There’s a big problem with site line visibility with removing a couple of spaces that might be too close to an intersection, it improves your visibility to make a turn,” Miller said. “We also needed to remove those to improve our radius.”
Similar to Slope Street, the traffic pattern at this intersection is not slated for change but the radius improvements are planned along with bringing it up to current standards.
Depot & Ramseur & Ramseur & Deep Creek
The traffic pattern will be completely realigned at the intersections of Depot & Ramseur Street and Ramseur & Deep Creek Road.
“The whole thing will be realigned so rather than driving down Depot Street and having to make a left then an immediate right to continue, which is the heaviest flow of traffic, the whole thing was realigned to create a sweep, and now you have continuous flow of movement without having to make two turns,” Miller said. “It should be a cleaner, simpler movement for all involved.”
Additional sidewalk is also planned in the improvements for that area.
In order to make the realignment between Depot and Deep Creek Road, the road will shift toward Deep Creek Road, which will require the removal of the small church building that sits on the corner.
According to Miller, the right of way acquisition is more than half-way complete, and property owners to be impacted have already been in communication with the department.
Overall, DOT anticipates the improvements will help with the flow of traffic downtown.
“Not just for the tourists, even more so for the people who live and work there every day, it’s going to help with the flow of traffic, and make it more pleasant to navigate the downtown area,” Miller said.
He added construction projects will take into account local traffic to make the lowest impact. For example, he said, the improvements on Everett Street will not likely be the first to be made since construction will begin during Polar Express.