On heels of McPherson controversy, changes coming to Greenville’s traffic-calming process

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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.

On the heels of a contentious battle over whether a barricade that turned one block of McPherson Lane into a one-way street should be made permanent, the City of Greenville is changing its traffic-calming process.

The Greenville City Council voted on Monday night to keep the barricade that prevents motorists from using McPherson, a small residential street, to escape from or avoid the traffic gridlock on Augusta Street.

Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle said traffic is increasing throughout the city and it’s time to take another look at a process that has been in place since 1999. Scores of other neighborhoods have undergone the traffic-calming efforts, but none has been as controversial as this one.

“We’ll just try to do better the next time,” she said.

The McPherson barricade has been in place for a year, prior to the ongoing renovation of the strip shopping center on Augusta Street that houses Verizon and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Residents of McPherson and four other nearby streets — McPherson, Warner Street, McDaniel Court, Camille Avenue, and Cothran Street — said they were promised the barricade as an answer to their concerns over increased traffic because of the redeveloped shopping center. McPherson residents said they did not contest the rezoning necessary for the shopping center’s redevelopment because they thought the one-way was permanent.

But residents of other streets in the neighborhood objected to the one-way, saying they weren’t notified the barricade would be erected and their streets were being adversely affected by increased traffic.

The city later called the barricade temporary and required the neighborhood to go through its traffic-calming process that allows residents to vote on items such as speed humps, traffic circles, landscape medians, curb extensions, and roundabouts.

The residents of McPherson, Warner, McDaniel Court, Camille, and Cothran voted for the installation of three speed humps in addition to making the one-way permanent. Residents of the other streets said the boundaries of the traffic-calming voting district were not broad enough and if they would have had a vote, the one-way would have failed.

Before their vote to make the barricade permanent, several council members, including the area’s representative on Council, Wil Brasington, said it was important to stand by the traffic-calming process, no matter if they personally agreed with the one-way or not.

“As flawed as this process might have been, I think as a Council we need to respect the process,” Councilman Russell Stall said.

Doyle, who chairs the Council’s Planning and Neighborhood Committee, said the city’s “traffic calming 2.0” will better define how the study area will be determined, likely with the city Planning Commission having input. It will also address how members of traffic calming study committees are chosen, she said.

The city will also likely eliminate one-ways from the list of traffic calming methods on which neighborhood can vote, Doyle said.

“We’re hearing from neighborhoods all across the city about traffic. But we need to look at neighborhoods as part of a larger system,” she said.

Traffic volumes across the city are increasing. Doyle said average daily traffic counts have increased 30 percent on Church Street and between 8 percent and 10 percent in some neighborhoods. But while traffic counts are up, collision rates are down, Doyle said.

The city is also looking at traffic signal improvements, road design and striping, and intersection improvements as ways to ease traffic congestion and concerns, she said.

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