After residents aired their concerns Tuesday, county supervisors decided against shaving down a hill on Harrold Street, but agreed to install four-way stops at two nearby intersections.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved installing four-way stops at Harrold's intersections with Hoover Avenue and Coolidge Avenue just outside Crescent City limits. Further improvements to roads in the area, including flattening the hill on Harrold Street, will be made when commercially zoned parcels in the area are developed, said Supervisor Michael Sullivan.
After hearing residents complain that traffic and speeding in their neighborhood has increased, supervisors in May directed county staff to conduct a speed study and analyze the number of vehicle collisions at the intersection.
During the study in June, county staff surveyed about 100 cars traveling 15-35 miles per hour on the stretch, said engineer Jim Barnts. A small number of cars were traveling over 30 mph, he said, and roughly half were traveling 15-25 mph.
The speed limit on Harrold Street is 25 mph. On weekdays, 900 to 1,000 cars drive down Harrold between Washington and Hoover.
Barnts recommended either installing four-way stop signs at Harrold and Hoover or leaving the streets as they are.
"Speeds aren't excessive and there have been no accidents in the last five years," he said. "It seems that people realize that the sight distance is not good and don't travel fast."
According to the county's staff report, a waterway behind lots on the east side of Harrold Street required houses to be built close to the road. To lower the road by as little as 2 feet, at least 100 feet of it would have to be removed or replaced, which would require lowering roughly 50 feet of a six-inch water line, according to the report.
A retaining wall of at least 80 feet would have to be built in front of one house on Harrold, according to the staff, which estimated lowering the hill would cost a minimum of $40,000.
The developer of the Social Security building had posted a cash bond of $22,000 to pay for improvements to Harrold and Hoover, Tina McClendon, deputy director of engineering and roads, told supervisors in May. But the developer later decided the bond wouldn't be enough to make those improvements correctly and the county didn't have the funds to contribute, McClendon said.
Even though the county's analysis turned up no collisions in the last five years, neighborhood residents say it's only a matter of time before a pedestrian or a child is hit. James Parsley, who lives on Arrow Street with his two young children, said he has had confrontations that have almost turned physical from motorists who have sped down Harrold.
"On any given day there's my children and probably six other children who are out there playing and I'm afraid to leave my kids out there unattended," he said, suggesting the four-way stop sign at Coolidge and Harrold in addition to Harrold and Hoover. "It's not a matter of if a child's going to get hit, it's a matter of when. By the grace of God I hope it's not my kid or anybody else's on that street. The four-way stop sign at Hoover Street, that's a temporary fix."
Michael Fleming, a Harrold Street resident, said he has seen more motorists use Harrold Street as a thoroughfare from Washington Street and his worry is for pedestrians in the area. Pedestrians use that street to get to Walmart, the Social Security building and other businesses in the neighborhood, he said.
"Even though we put a stop sign there, the issue is still the hill," Fleming said. "I invite any of you to stand in front of Danny Blackburn's house on that hill for 15 minutes and if you don't feel the danger, then I can lead a horse to water, but can't make them drink."
Starr Blackburn, who owns the property on the crest of the hill, said even though she doesn't live there, she knows there's a lot of foot traffic.
"We'd like to see any progress that we can make," she said. "We don't intend to own that home forever and hope to be able to sell it, but can't because of the issues that are impeding that property."
Supervisor Roger Gitlin, who made the motion to approve the stop signs, noted that the $22,000 cash bond is still available for improvements to Harrold Street.
Gitlin added that he would like to add Harrold and Hoover to the a list of county road projects to be completed sometime during the 2013-14 to 2015-16 fiscal years. But when the Board discussed the roads list, Supervisor David Finigan, who made the motion to approve the list, refused to amend the list to add Harrold and Hoover.
"Those of us who have worked with the road department and transportation for years understand how this is formulated and it's not just priority but it's priority funding," Finigan said. "It's to stop these little projects that supervisors throughout time, including myself, have tried to wedge in there."
Road Superintendent Jeff Daniels said the county staff has focused on roads that have high traffic and those that scored low on the county's pavement management criteria. Many road projects on the list are not funded at this time, according to county staff.
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