Public weighs in on dangers of driving, walking, biking on East Innes, Long streets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 5, 2013

SALISBURY — Local residents rated the overall appearance of North Long Street as “very poor” and said they are concerned about pedestrian safety on East Innes Street.
The opinions came Wednesday night during a public meeting to gather input for a study of the Long and East Innes street corridors.
Consulting firm Design Workshop gave the 31 participants a polling device that immediately displayed their responses to questions about concerns regarding traffic, safety, aesthetics and more on Long and Innes streets.
Most participants said they would probably walk or bike more if the roads offered features like bike lanes and crosswalks.
The most important objectives of the study for those in attendance included improving safety, better aesthetics, smoother traffic flow, less traffic congestion and more traffic safety .
People also want more street trees, less trash and better air quality.
East Innes Street, where several pedestrians have been struck by cars in the past, needs crosswalks and pedestrian signals, participants said. Drivers don’t yield to pedestrians, and the road is not safe for bicyclists, they said.
Motorists also have a tough time navigating East Innes Street, with difficulties making left turns out of a business or across traffic, they said.
Landscape architect Drake Fowler said the consulting firm is gathering information and has no preconceived ideas about what changes to make on Long or Innes. They have been looking at the streets block by block and considering crash data and problem areas, he said.
Eventually, they will host a design charrette to come up with alternatives, then bring those back to the public for feedback. In the past, ideas for the roads have included narrowing Long Street to two lanes of travel with a turn lane or median and bike lanes, as well as allowing left turns at the Square — the corner of Innes and Main streets.
The study is dubbed “Complete Streets” because it will take into consideration more than just cars, Fowler said.
“When we think about designing a street, we need to think about all modes of transportation on the street,” he said.
That includes pedestrians, bikes and buses, he said.
“With good design, all of those modes can be handled in the proper way, where everyone feels like they are getting where they need to go in a safe way,” Fowler said.
Ultimately, City Council would have to approve major changes like a median or left turns at the Square.
Salisbury City Council in July appointed 16 people to a study committee to look at traffic and safety issues along Innes and Long. Eighty percent of the funding for the $120,000 study is coming from the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization and 10 percent from N.C. Department of Transportation. The city is picking up the remaining 10 percent, or $12,000.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.