Motorists that make left turns from the northbound lane on North Kelsey Street to Blueberry Lane will soon have to find a new route 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Monroe City Council unanimously approved the restriction for the heavily used intersection where lack of signage and signals has impeded traffic flow. Estimated to cost no more than $10,000, the project includes installing a sign, a double yellow centerline and raised pavement markers to establish a no-passing zone from Main Street to U.S. Highway 2.
“When reviewing that (turn lane limits) we found that the limiting of left turns during certain hours of the day from Blueberry Lane, in the opinion of the staff, would be too confusing for the drivers,” said Monroe Public Works director Brad Feilberg.
The project is one of two solutions the council asked city staff to pursue for alleviating safety and congestion issues at the intersection due south of the railroad tracks that parallel the highway. Originally, the cost for the first option approved last Tuesday was established at $1,000.
The new price tag would include signs and striping, Feilberg said. Councilmember Jim Kamp said he would like to see a larger sign, potentially overhead, that would be more obvious to drivers. Feilberg said that could cost as much as $8,000 for the sign and $10,000 each for the poles.
“It (the project) is supposedly temporary, and we are trying not to get carried away on that,” he said.
Councilmember Jason Gamble said he was also concerned people might ignore any signs that are not more clearly visible. He said he supports putting the proposed sign “up tomorrow,” which Feilberg said will cost about $250.
Mayor Geoffrey Thomas said staff is looking into the section between the railroad and the highway, which is also an area of concern. Any alterations to the roadway would affect the Rite Aide and Denny’s on either corner of the North Kelsey Street and U.S. 2 intersection. He said the city has received a response from Denny’s staff and is waiting to hear from Rite Aid, and the topic will be revisited in the near future.
Feilberg said the way to measure the success of the project will be through reports from law enforcement and complaints, or lack of, from neighbors. He said it could be an option to put the sign up quickly and see if that has any immediate impact.
Striping has to wait until there is better weather and less rain, Feilberg said. That part of the project is currently scheduled for around June, he said.
Thomas said the council will receive an update closer to early summer, and can decide then whether to spend more on striping.
Councilmembers approved looking into a long-term fix on Jan. 24, which would cost roughly $450,000, allowing left turns and adding another traffic lane and curb to North Kelsey Street. Funds for either project have not been set aside yet.
“While this (left-turn lane restriction project) is not currently budgeted, the Street Fund (105) has an anticipated 2017 ending fund balance of $196,000 and can absorb this expense,” according to an agenda bill.
“By us blocking that all off, it is going to help traffic flow better,” said Councilmember Kevin Hanford. “I think it’s a great start, and I am all for it. We talked about doing stuff and this is definitely something.”