Public can comment on new transportation plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Changing the designation of some Salisbury roads in a new transportation plan will not mean more traffic on those streets, a city official said.
Dan Mikkelson, city engineer, said he knows some residents of historic districts are concerned about their streets becoming “minor thoroughfares” in the new Comprehensive Transportation Plan, a document under construction by the Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“But the act of designating the road will not change a single traffic pattern,” Mikkelson said.
The public can comment on the proposed plan through Monday by emailing dmikk@salisburync. gov or calling Mikkelson at 704-638-5206.
Salisbury city staff have recommended removing the designation of minor thoroughfare from nine streets and adding it to 11 others. Mikkelson said the changes are more a matter of housekeeping than anything else. “We are trying to reflect the actual traffic patterns in the plan,” he said.
While there is no harm in leaving a label in place when it’s not accurate, Mikkelson said “that leaves your plan disingenuous.”
Major thoroughfares are typically state-maintained roads that carry high volumes of traffic and qualify for state funding for improvements.
Minor thoroughfares carry traffic but also provide direct access to neighborhoods. These are smaller roads the city typically has to come up with the money to fix.
Local roads have no designation and are neighborhood streets used to get in and out of private property.
Planners and engineers will use the Comprehensive Transportation Plan as they plan improvements and traffic patterns, Mikkelson said.
Separate from the designations, the plan includes an index of all streets in Rowan and Cabarrus counties, including whether officials have plans to widen them.
See the list at and clicking on “Draft CTP Index,” which brings up a searchable database.
City staff will consult the street index when someone wants to build a new development, Mikkelson said. If the transportation plan calls for widening a street near the development or putting in a new road, the developer would have to work around it.
“We make them plan their site so they’re not in conflict with each other,” he said.
Developers must build setbacks from city’s future right-of-way to save the city time and money later, he said.
The N.C. Department of Transportation recently approved 11-foot lanes for urban areas. Previously, 12-foot lanes were required.
Mikkelson said this is big news for Salisbury, where engineers and planners can design roads to carry pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as vehicles. “Across the country since World War II, communities have been doing street planning only for automobiles,” he said.
Now, the state has agreed roads should be designed to accommodate other modes of transportation.
As Salisbury’s roads are resurfaced, the city can paint new 11-foot lanes, giving extra space for bikes, medians or sidewalks without widening the road.
South Long Street is a good example, Mikkelson said.
Motorists often speed on the wide, five-lane road, but narrower lanes with a planted median or bike path would slow traffic and make the road easier for pedestrians to cross, he said.
The change also could help the city establish left turns at the Square, he said.
Staff will make final recommendations to the Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization on May 16, and the plan will be adopted May 23.
Years ago, the belief was that every road would be safer if it were wider, Mikkelson said. For an interstate highway, that makes sense, he said.
“But if it’s inside a town, with pedestrians and parked cars and bikes, that statement is not accurate,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

Proposed deletions as minor thoroughfares:
• Cemetery Street, from Church to Lee (100 blocks east and west)
• Church Street, from Kerr to Liberty (400 block north)
• Lee Street, from Cemetery to Kerr (400 block north)
• Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, especially Old Concord to Innes
• Fisher Street, from Fulton to Ellis 
• Bank Street, from Fulton to Ellis
• South Jackson, from Main to Monroe
• East Council Street, from Long to Arlington
• North Jackson Street, from Henderson to the city limits
Proposed additions as minor thoroughfares:
• Caldwell Street, from Ellis to Fulton. Serves Salisbury High School and would be treated the same as Ellis Street near the school.
• Confederate Avenue, from Mocksville to Henderson. Serves hospital.
• Council Street, from Main to Lee
• Depot Street, from Innes to Kerr. Serves bus transfer station and depot.
• Ellis Street, from Caldwell to Monroe. Serves Salisbury High School and would be treated the same as Caldwell.
• Ellis Street, from Liberty to Cemetery
• Grove Street, from Mocksville to West Henderson. Serves hospital.
• Henderson Grove Church Road
• Henderson, from Grove to Confederate. Serves hospital.
• Kerr Street, from Main to Lee
• Klumac Road, from Jake Alexander Boulevard to Julian. I-85 service road.
• Liberty, from Church to Main. Serves Rowan County Courthouse and jail.
• Liberty Street, from Main to Lee. Serves police department and depot.
• Horah Street, from Main to Lee
• North Ellis Street, from Cemetery to Henderson
Proposed upgrade from a minor thoroughfare to a major thoroughfare:
• Julian Road from Jake Alexander Boulevard to Old Concord Road