Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Primping Preston" - I believe we need to do more than that.

I read with some interest the story in this weeks HooK entitled "Primping Preston." Having been involved in local transportation issues both professionally (as a transportation-environmental consultant) and as an interested citizen stakeholder, I could not resist sending in a comment hoping to generating a lively discussion about transportation and traffic matters in Charlottesville's past, present and future. I invite you to read "Primping Preston" and contribute your thoughts on the article. My comment is posted at the HooK, but I have also provided it below for your reading convenience.

----- My Comment -----

I found the comments in Dave McNair's "Primping Preston" to range between the enlightened and out of touch with reality. Perhaps this makes for good reading over coffee at Cafe Cubano (my favorite place to read the HooK), but I hope there will be a follow up to this story that delves into some of the transportation and traffic realities of the Meadow Creek Parkway (McIntire Road Extended in the city) and Preston Avenue.

I applaud Dave McNair including planning commissioner Bill Lucy's comment that "Preston Avenue has been badly designed." In fact, if my memory serves me well, Preston Avenue was to be continued with a similar road design westward to US Route 29 (Emmet Street) but opposition to that road stopped Preston Avenue widening in its current configuration. That extension, along with the Meadow Creek Parkway were all controversial in the 1960's and 1970's, but for some reason the Meadow Creek Parkway (McIntire Road Extended) projects outlived the Preston Avenue project. Had Preston Avenue been designed as something other than a connector road, I would think it might have better served the neighborhoods adjacent to it. Clearly, improvements can be made and I think it is a terrific idea to redesign Preston Avenue in a manner that allows Preston Avenue to better serve those neighborhoods.

I found the Elizabeth Meyer quote stating that a roundabout at the Preston/McIntire intersetion "would slow traffic coming off the Meadowcreek Parkway" to be in the 'out of touch' category. Roundabouts do not function well in high traffic flow conditions, and as best I can determine adding 20,000 anticipated vehicles per day on McIntire Road Extended, many of which are assumed to be traveling on existing McIntire Road into downtown Charlottesville will result in a highly congested situation at a Preston Avenue/McIntire Road roundabout. Given that VDOT is assuming over 2,000 vehicles per hour will be using the McIntire Road Extended in the peak hours, my conclusion is that any roundabout (or intersection for that matter) at Preston/McIntire will operate at such a poor level of service that slowing traffic will not be an issue. Traffic congestion and slow travel will more likely be the normal situation at that location.

I am delighted that Dave McNair and the HooK have opened a discussion about traffic and possible improvements to traffic along Preston Avenue and McIntire Road, but I must suggest that the HooK consider publishing additional stories that include input from traffic engineers and other individuals familiar with the traffic implications of the proposed McIntire Road Extended and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road. Only then will HooK readers get a fair picture of what possibilities exist for the neighborhoods in the vicinity of McIntire Road and Preston Avenue.

-Peter Kleeman-

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