The issue: Accidents spur Jetton Road study
In 2016, the Town of Cornelius hired an engineering firm to evaluate the intersection of Jetton Road and Old Jetton Road because of safety concerns. Assistant Town Manager and Public Works Director Tyler Beardsley presented at the July 16 town board meeting that there have been 37 accidents in the area between January 2013 and May 2018, and 24 were caused by people coming from Old Jetton Road, and three came from the direction of Brooklyn South Pizzeria. The study found time of year, time of day and weather didn’t factor into the accidents. In spring 2017 the town board agreed to lower the speed limit from 45 miles per hour to 35 mph from West Catawba to Peninsula Shores Drive to help reduce the number of accidents. However there have been nine accidents in the last year, compared to the average six accidents per year the town has noticed for the past six years. Two surveys have been conducted to get feedback from residents and business owners about proposed ways to make it safer.
What happened: Businesses and residents were split
More than 50 people attended an April meeting to discuss findings of the study, and 320 residents took part in the second survey. While that’s four fewer participants than in 2017, this year’s survey had a large increase in business representative participation, which accounted for 13 percent of the responders. All of the business representatives voiced that they wanted to retain the current traffic pattern. Overall, 60 percent of the responders wanted to keep the current traffic pattern, while 40 percent wanted to eliminate left turns and straight across movements from side streets, as proposed in the study’s results. Among the comments from the surveys were that U-turns would be more dangerous, the speed should be increased again to 45 mph or 40 mph, proposed changes that limit where drivers can go would hurt people’s ability to get into businesses and that the intersection is too dangerous, but there are other potential solutions.
What it means: Speed limits could be changed
One of the proposed options is to not allow drivers to go straight or turn left from Old Jetton Road. People coming from the Brooklyn South side would still be able to turn, there are no forced U-turns at West Catawba Avenue and Jetton Road and access to businesses remains the same, Beardsley presented. An extended median at Beaufain Drive would prevent U-turns, and more signs would be added. The no-right-turn option would cost approximately $45,000-65,000. During the July 16 town board meeting, residents asked commissioners to consider increasing the speed again, since the road was designed for 45 mph, but to also have better enforcement. Several commented that the issues come from those driving in excess of that amount. A representative from Princeton Management, which manages several businesses in the area, also spoke saying speed isn’t related, but certain traffic patterns could affect businesses.
What’s next: The board will continue looking into it
The board discussed the proposed changes to access off of Old Jetton Road and keeping the speed limit at 35 in some areas near the businesses. There was discussion to increase it back to either 40 or 45 mph just past Jetton Park to John Connor Road. There were also suggestions about making changes to the crosswalks in order to have better signals for pedestrians and more lights warning drivers of pedestrians. Mayor Woody Washam said the board will continue looking for a resolution to the matter, but he acknowledged that there are a lot of opinions so they have to do the best they can.