He Said / She Said

A set of posts (here and here) on the roundabout proposed for Price’s Fork & N. Main has spurred some good comments, and for the enjoyment of everyone I wanted to post them here so you could see them and submit your own thoughts.  Both issues addressed in the comments are key components to the future of Blacksburg and I thought it appropriate to share.  Get involved!

Kim said:  A roundabout at Prices Fork and
North Main would win the award for biggest waste of resources (both
time and money) and unnecessary disruption to a traffic pattern. Has
any study substantiated a need for a change to the traffic pattern or
is someone gunning for an award using a roundabout? (Sidebar – VT won
an award for its use of a roundabout at the intersection of Washington
Street and West Campus Drive.)

I would rather see taxpayer resources go toward the development of
the South Main corridor for retail and residential. At least the South
Main initiative will enhance the beauty of a dilapidated corridor and
spur the economic vitality of downtown, instead of creating senseless
and annoying construction at a gateway to downtown.

To which Stephen replied:  PEDESTRIAN, that is the point. The main street design transforms a
large four lane road through downtown that is dangerous to pedestrians,
into a two lane pedestrian focused road. Businesses need people walking
to patron their shops. You cannot two lane main street and have a
traffic signal at Prices Fork Road. That would back up traffic forever.
The Roundabout provides a traffic design to move traffic in a single
lane design constantly. So, if you want investment in downtown
businesses, invest in pedestrian improvements. If you want cars to
actually move effeciently and safely through downtown, do not put a
light at Prices Fork Road. Look at the total picture of the project,
not just at the percieved waste of money transforming an intersection.
Downtown is worth supporting. And traffic studies have been done, ask
VDOT or the Town to explain them, rather than just making uninformed
acusations. Participate in the public process at VDOT meetings where
input can be meaningful and addressed rather than through website blogs
that have no information to educate and respond to specific questions.
(Editor’s note: really?  What has the NRVLiving Blog done to make you feel we’re lacking information?  In the interest of fair reporting your comments were unedited, nonetheless.  Insert friendly smiley face here.)

Stephen, thanks for your comments!  You’re absolutely right, one of the greatest things about Blacksburg is the ability to walk amongst downtown but the current Main Street arrangement is prohibitive to a lot of foot traffic because of a lack of safety.  Again, I am in no way a traffic engineer but I do know how to find information relative to the topic, so I’m heading back to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and their information on roundabouts – there’s even a video.  I like how they have soothing music for the roundabout but nothing for traditional traffic patterns.  Anyway …

If you look at the bullet points on roundabouts you’ll see item #8 deals specifically with pedestrian safety in roundabouts.  According to the IIHS the number of pedestrian crashes can be reduced by as much as 75% with a roundabout.  But I raise these questions for everyone to consider … the majority of foot traffic on Main Street is higher at Main and College than it is at Main and Price’s Fork.  How will pedestrian safety at that intersection be addressed, and what traffic-calming measures should be installed?  I for one don’t like crossing that intersection at certain times of the day and think it’s just as dangerous.  And under the Town’s Exhibit7
Downtown Master Plan, Exhibit 7, you’ll see the main entrance to Blacksburg Baptist Church has been closed off.  Full disclosure – I am a member, but nevertheless I fail to see how shutting off the main entrance to one of the largest churches in the state and narrowing it’s main artery will calm traffic further when the church is at full capacity daily with its’ events. 

I still contend these are exciting times for Blacksburg and I am interested in seeing future improvements.  Stephen’s right, downtown is worth supporting and we all should make it an effort to follow the Buy Local campaign.  But Kim’s also right in that it’s or civic duty to question and comment on civic improvements before they’re done, not afterwards when we’re not happy.  She never said she wasn’t supporting downtown, just that she wanted to see money spent in a way to create economic sustainability among Blacskburg merchants.  Get involved – continue reading here ’cause we’ll try to be as current as possible, catch up on the news, and follow what’s happening with local government.   I’m excited to see this kind of discussion and hope you’ll continue the great comments!

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