The testing phase of the College Hill traffic initiative will begin Tuesday August 1. The plan was presented at last Thursday’s neighborhood meeting. About 50 people turned out to hear about the plan and discuss issues that the plan addresses.
The “College Hill for Everyone” plan includes ideas to slow traffic, to make streets safer for pedestrians and to raise awareness of College Hill’s distinct identity among people coming into and through the neighborhood. It was developed by neighborhood planners Team Better Block of Dallas, working with the College Hill Neighborhood Association and the Greensboro Planning Department. It addresses needs identified by the College Hill residents in the neighborhood plan adopted in 2015. The project is being paid for by the neighborhood with its Municipal Service District funds.
Before freaking out about any of this, please note: No changes will be implemented on a permanent basis before they are tested and response from the neighborhood is gathered.
The plan focuses initially on the installation of demonstration projects on South Mendenhall Street from Rankin Place to Walker Avenue. They will be put in place on a test basis August 1. A second demonstration phase will occur in the fall on Mendenhall from Walker to Spring Garden Street and on Spring Garden from Mendenhall to Fulton Street. Details on the second phase will come later this summer.
The demonstration projects will be temporary installations of street improvements designed to slow traffic on Mendenhall and Spring Garden — the two College Hill streets where speed limits are most abused — and to make the streets more safe, convenient and comfortable for pedestrians. The results of the tests will determine what changes will be implemented on a permanent basis.
Carr and Odell streets
Two significant changes are proposed at Mendenhall’s intersections with Odell and Carr streets. To reduce traffic and make the intersections safer, the team’s suggestions are to test access restrictions on the two side streets.
To reduce traffic on Mendenhall, the plan proposes to test a barrier to block traffic on Odell from turning onto Mendenhall Street. Mendenhall traffic would still be able to turn onto Odell, but traffic leaving Odell would have to go through Greensboro College to Market Street.
On Carr, the opposite access restriction would be tested: A barrier would block Mendenhall traffic from turning onto Carr Street. Traffic on Carr could still turn onto Mendenhall. That change is designed to eliminate the frequent congestion at the intersection.
Additional traffic-calming ideas for the Carr and Odell intersections are the installation of a parklet to replace the single parking space in front of 303 South Mendenhall and of curb extensions or “bulbouts.”
Mendenhall Street and Walker Avenue
Another key intersection is Mendenhall and Walker, where the plan envisions either installing a mini traffic circle or possibly raising the level of the intersection to the level of the curb and sidewalk, which would slow Mendenhall traffic moving through the intersection. (Click here for an explanation of raised intersections.)
The plan also suggests simplifying the traffic flow there by reducing Walker from two lanes to one when traffic reaches the top of the hill coming up from Tate Street. The unused left lane on Walker could be used for a street mural or green space.
Other suggested changes include:
- At Rankin and Mendenhall, a pedestrian island and crosswalks angled up and down Mendenhall, the directions that pedestrians go when coming from Rankin;
- Beautification of utility boxes and poles;
- Using retaining walls for mural-type signage for the neighborhood; and
- Colorful crosswalks that draw drivers’ attention more strongly than plain white ones.