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Roxboro’s fire chief, police chief and city council raised concerns Monday night about road upgrades along Madison Boulevard leading to the possible removal of signals at the intersection of Reams Avenue and the boulevard.
City council members were responding to a report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation consultant Robert Boot.
The NC DOT is proposing to convert Madison Boulevard from a five-lane undivded roadway to a four-lane median divided roadway from south of U.S. 158 to North Main Street.
The proposed project is included in the 2018-2027 North Carolina State Transportation Improvement Program.
During his presentation, Boot showed the council a concept plan that included restricting access from Reams Avenue onto the boulevard.
Council members were concerned because Reams Avenue is the primary route emergency personnel use to get to the hospital.
According to Boot, with the upgrades, they are looking at Carver Street as the main route for emergency personnel.
Mayor Pro-Tem Tim Chandler asked for feedback from the police and fire chief.
“Reams Avenue is a primary emergency route for all law enforcement in the county including highway patrol and by closing these two intersections you are going to be causing law enforcement to leave the uptown business district trying to get through areas that are highly trafficked by pedestrians. Then you are also potentially delaying our emergency response,” said Chief of Police David Hess.
According to Mayor Marilyn Newell, Reams is a straight shot for emergency vehicles.
Clayton Avenue, however, is a winding street. It is also in a residential neighborhood and it is not a street that is normally used by emergency vehicles.
“Reams Avenue, that road has been traveled for many years and everyone is expecting the ambulance to come through. Even though we try to take it easy as we possibly can these ambulances are bringing in heart patients and other patients in need. I think it may cut back on accidents but I think it is going to force other accidents in this residential neighborhood,” said Fire Chief Kenneth Torain.
One of the main reasons for the upgrade is to increase safety and reduce congestion.
NCDOT studied traffic along the corridor between 2013 and 2017 and found that 852 crashes occurred during that time, including one fatality.
Additionally, five pedestrian crashes and one bicycle crash occurred during the study period.
According to Boot, seven of the 20 intersections in the corridor operate at level of service E or worse during rush hour.
Boot said LOS is a traffic term to distinguish how well traffic get through an intersection.
“A is your free flow, best case scenario and E is failing, meaning you are sitting through multiple cycles or signals timing,” Boot said.
Newell asked Boot if Roxboro emergency personnel could meet with NCDOT planners to discuss their concerns.
Boot said he would check into it.