Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's Going on with Scenic Drive and Wheeling?

The result of a head-on with a car coming off of Scenic even with the extended "slowing" curb

You will recall that there has been some talk about closing the intersection at Wheeling and Scenic Drive. At issue is the fact observed by neighbors that too many cars too often speed down Wheeling from Scenic. An extended curb was created some time ago in an attempt to slow traffic turning off of Scenic onto Wheeling. Hector Montes reports with analysis on what happened at the most recent meeting about the issue:

"I did attend the meeting with Rep. Susie Byrd. Rep. Ann Lilly was also present. The latest plan is to put 'no right turn' signs on Scenic to prevent cars from turning and speeding down Wheeling. Traffic would still be able to go up Wheeling and turn right or left on Scenic. However, Wheeling would remain two-way and there would be no barrier which would actually prevent anyone on Scenic from turning right. It appeared most people present were okay with the plan, but after thinking it over, I'm concerned that because there will be no barrier, and probably little enforcement, the city may once again be taking one dangerous situation and turning it into another. With no one watching, many people familiar with the turn, and particularly joy-riders, will probably ignore the signs and continue to turn and speed down the hill. The danger of head-on collisions will remain, especially because those going up will not be expecting anyone to turn down. With a barrier, I'm sure very few would be willing to turn into the opposite lane.

In addition, there is no plan to correct the curb on the right side corner going up Wheeling, which causes vehicles that turn right onto Scenic to go into the oncoming lane. Many people I know who are familiar with this turn, including police officers, have commented that it is very dangerous, especially when cars suddenly come racing around the mountain going west just as you are turning. Ted Marquez, the engineer from the city, said there is no budget to correct this curb he designed, and both he and Susie said there is no budget to put up a barrier that will actually prevent the right turn going down Wheeling."

One suggestion by neighbors continues to be ignored by the City's traffic engineers: Create a three way stop at Dakota and Wheeling - one block down from Scenic. Engineers have their rules and formulas and they claim that no stop sign is required at that intersection. One person attending the meeting told me that Mr. Marquez was adamant about not having a stop sign or stop signs no matter what anecdotes people who live nearby can offer. The issue is not so much slowing the traffic coming off of Scenic (although that may be part of the solution), the issue is stopping cars from speeding down the street. A stop sign at Dakota and Wheeling would be a cheap and easy answer. There is common sense and then there are engineer's formulas.

Similarly, Newmanistas along Richmond have often asked for a four way stop at Richmond and Louisiana just as there is at Altura and Louisiana. Again, engineering says that there are no grounds for such a four-way stop and point to measurements that they have made. (I've seen those measurements. They are usually taken for just a few hours of a day and not during the busiest times.)

Keep in mind that any reduction or cessation of traffic off of Scenic onto Wheeling will mean added traffic onto Richmond past Newman Park. Engineering has measured traffic going between an average of 32 and 34 mph past the Park. Does any sane person believe that 34 mph past a busy park is safe? That's just too fast - but so far, since there have been no mangled cars or dead people, things will remain dangerously the same.

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