McPherson barricade opposition: closing access to city street is not normal traffic-calming device

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A barricade on McPherson Lane has forced some neighborhood residents to navigate the busy intersection of Augusta Street and Faris Road. Photo by Will Crooks.

Some who live near McPherson Lane say a barricade that has turned one end of the street into a one-way is not a normal traffic-calming method in Greenville, and they’ve asked the city to remove it as one of the items that residents may consider.

“Blocking an access point of an entire neighborhood from Augusta Road impacts many more citizens than those within these small study-area boundaries,” Curt Hall, president of the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association, told members of the Greenville City Council at its meeting Monday night.

The barricade was put up the end of May, prior to redevelopment of the strip shopping center on Augusta that houses Verizon and Moe’s Southwest Grill. The barricade allows residents to exit out of the neighborhood on Augusta but does not allow motorists on Augusta to take McPherson.

Some residents on McPherson and Cothran Street thought the barricade was permanent. But the city told them they would have to go through the city’s established process for traffic calming, including the city designating a traffic calming area and the formation of a study team that would develop a plan to be voted upon by residents of that area. The traffic-calming area includes McPherson, Cothran, Warner Street, Camille Avenue, and McDaniel Court.

Hall said closing access to a city street is not a normal traffic calming device, and that there are far too many unanswered questions and issues. He said five of the 11 study committee members live within one block of the one-way, and three others live on McPherson Lane. He said because of that, the study committee has not been willing to allow residents to vote for items such as speed bumps independent from the barricade. Opponents of the one-way support speed humps and “No Through Traffic” signs.

Hall said the current situation was the result of “many missteps” and said there are far too many unanswered questions and issues. Forcing neighborhood traffic onto other streets within the greater neighborhood and its impact has not been studied, Hall said. “It sets a precedent for every neighborhood looking at traffic calming all over the city, and effectively turns a public street into a private drive at taxpayers’ expense,” he said.

Joe Frasher, who lives on Longview Terrace, a street off East Faris Road that is not included in the study area, said, “The closure of the street has impacted us all. It increases traffic on every other street.”

Hall said the whole situation has been mishandled.

“The whole situation has been long, contentious, confusing, inconsistent, and mishandled. It has caused ill will among neighbors, and has benefited a select vocal few to the detriment of the greater community,” he said. Councilman Russell Stall urged residents not to let the situation ruin friendships.

“One thing that makes me sad is that we’re seeing the division in the neighborhood, anger, people mad at each other. …I urge you not to let this rip the neighborhood apart,” he said.

Hall proposed that the city remove the one-way from the neighborhood ballot but keep the barrier in place until construction on the commercial area is complete. He said the city should do proper traffic counts then, and then remove the barrier and do comparison traffic counts as well as measure the ripple effect and safety, engineering, and cost feasibility studies.

“In other words, see if there is an actual need for it, if it benefits the community as a whole, and then take the proper and responsible actions,” Hall said.

The traffic calming study committee has submitted its recommendation to the city and staff is currently reviewing it, said City Manager John Castile. After the city reviews the recommendation, it will meet with the committee to discuss the traffic calming ballot and when the vote will take place.

Each item on the ballot must get yes votes on at least 70 percent of the ballots submitted to pass.

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