RDC votes to put one-way traffic issue on back burner

Members cite opposition from city staff

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Rockingham Downtown Corporation member Neal Cadieu, in yellow, suggests to RDC members that it might be a good idea to hold off on pursuing one-way traffic in the area.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Rockingham Downtown Corporation member Neal Cadieu, in yellow, suggests to RDC members that it might be a good idea to hold off on pursuing one-way traffic in the area.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — At the urging of member Neal Cadieu, the Rockingham Downtown Corporation met early Tuesday afternoon and opted to put the idea of eliminating one-way traffic in downtown Rockingham on the back burner.

Staff with the city planning office, Cadieu said, is “just not a doable thing.”

Instead, the group will request to meet with city planning staff to discuss the possibility of adding signage to the area to better alert motorists to the one-way traffic pattern.

At the group’s April meeting, RDC members had resolved to take their concerns to City Council in the interest of improving safety. Cadieu and others believe eliminating the one-way streets would draw more visitors to the downtown area as well as address what they feel to be a potential accident — or accidents — waiting to happen.

On Tuesday, Cadieu said he now realizes that to eliminate one-way traffic in downtown would, among other things, prove to be quite costly. Three traffic islands — one at Fayetteville Road and East Washington Street, another at East Franklin Street and Rockingham Road in front of Leath Memorial Library and a third, smaller island on East Washington Street at South Hancock Street would have to be removed to accommodate two-way traffic.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A car is shown going the wrong way on East Washington Street.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A car is shown going the wrong way on East Washington Street.

Cadieu said that if the group chose to move forward with the idea, there would be “substantial opposition to it” from select city staff. One-way streets date back to 1955, Cadieu said, when even cross-section streets such as Lawrence and Hancock were designated for only one-way traffic. The restrictions eased over the years for the side streets but not for the main thoroughfares through downtown.

Before the vote, Cadieu said that even if the RDC chose to pull back on the issue, it was one that was worth discussing.

“We’ve gotten some good publicity out of it,” said Cadieu, noting he’d been approached about the subject at various local outlets and events.

Amber Marcengill, owner of Rockingham Trends Consignment Boutique at the corner of East Washington and South Hancock streets, suggested that instead of pursuing one-way traffic that increased signage could be considered. When motorists are required to make a right off East Washington onto South Hancock, there doesn’t seem to be enough of it, Marcengill said.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s enough to make people go in that direction,” Marcengill said. “The speed hump in the middle — they just drive over it.”

Susan Kelly, RDC president, suggested that an RDC representative could approach the city about meeting to discuss the idea from a safety perspective.

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said he was on the fence on the issue, but suggested that if the group should want to pursue it, it should do so formally.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Three traffic islands within downtown Rockingham, including this one in front of Leath Memorial Library at Rockingham Road and Franklin Street, would be costly to remove if one-way traffic were to be eliminated.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Three traffic islands within downtown Rockingham, including this one in front of Leath Memorial Library at Rockingham Road and Franklin Street, would be costly to remove if one-way traffic were to be eliminated.

“If we feel strongly that this ought to be considered, I think we should formally present it to the planning board,” Morris said. “If we feel that strong about it, let’s make it an official request.”

He said the issue could ultimately be referred to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the issue. RDC members know, however, that without support from the city its request won’t go anywhere.

RDC member Sharon Nichols said she hoped the city would consider the RDC a partner in making downtown safe and friendly to pedestrians and motorists alike.

“We’re not trying too completely alter the state of downtown Rockingham,” Nichols said. “From what I heard, it was an idea to solve a safety problem. And that’s it.”

 

 

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