Safety panel's suggestion to keep Cameron Street partially one-way heading to council for approval
By J.R. Williams -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- The City Council is considering changing its plan for a major intersection during its conversion of Cameron and Braddock streets to two-way traffic.
Safety concerns, plus an outcry from area business owners, have the city re-examining their original proposal for the intersection of Loudoun and Cameron streets.
The proposal approved by the City Council in April would have installed a median at the intersection, allowing southbound motorists from Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11) to choose either road to continue south.
During a meeting of the council's Community Safety and Public Services Committee, city Public Services Director Perry Eisenach outlined a different plan: Keep Cameron Street one-way northbound from Oates Street to the intersection.
Members of the Community Safety and Public Services Committee voted Tuesday night to send the option to the City Council for approval, with a caveat to request proposals for an independent traffic study of the intersection.
Several options were initially considered, including re-aligning the intersection completely, installing a roundabout or adding a traffic signal.
The intersection was the "most challenging" to convert to two-way traffic, Eisenach said, but "our recommendation is driven by cost" in the end.
"As a set, we feel like this is the best approach," he said. "If it doesn't work, we can go back and change it."
A traffic signal would have cost between $175,000 and $200,000, he said. Installing the median as originally planned would cost about $30,000, with a roundabout running about $500,000. Costs to acquire additional land for those options also would have to be considered, he said.
The intersection is particularly cramped, with little room for turn lanes or other improvements.
Tom Gilpin, who owns Northside Lanes at the intersection and several nearby buildings, said the council needs an independent voice to help make sense of a tricky problem.
The original plan would not have allowed northbound motorists on Loudoun Street to continue through to Martinsburg Pike, pushing motorists into the bowling alley parking lot, he said.
"We need a traffic study to give [the] council alternatives," he said. "It's incredibly unsafe. We have a large number of pedestrians who are patrons of our business, including children."
Fred Hamilton, who owns Auto Recyclers LLC at 685 N. Loudoun St., said the new proposal makes sense.
"They cannot make a roundabout big enough" for trucks to come through the intersection, he said.
The conversion to two-way traffic is being completed in tandem with the city's downtown utility infrastructure improvements project.