The council agreed after more than 20 minutes of discussion at its meeting Monday night to plan a work session for August to discuss a new proposed plan for the first phase of the project.
Phase I of the Arnold Mill-Towne Lake widening project originally included plans to add a left turn lane for drivers turning onto Main Street from Towne Lake Parkway, but a traffic study presented to the council Monday showed the turn lane might make traffic worse.
Geoff Warr with A&R Engineering, who helped conduct the traffic study, said traffic at the Towne Lake-Arnold Mill and Main Street intersection during peak morning hours resulted in “moderate to heavy delays” and traffic backups up to 700 feet in all directions from the intersection.
“That main intersection downtown, having the volume of traffic going through it, is exceeding or nearing the capacity of that signal’s ability to put those cars through it,” Warr said. “When we looked at the evening peak hours, we saw the same thing, but to a greater extent. We saw the volume exceeding that signal’s capacity.”
At evening peak hours, Warr said traffic backups went as far as Dupree Road to the south.
Warr said he used a model to predict what would happen if the proposed Phase I of the widening project was done using the city’s original plan, which included adding a left turn lane on Towne Lake Parkway.
He said there wasn’t much change in the morning peak hours, but in the evening peak hours, there was an increase in traffic problems.
“It hurts the intersection, overall,” Warr said.
The revised proposal includes changing the now one-way Mill Street into a two-way street and adding a second westbound lane, instead of adding a left turn lane, on Towne Lake Parkway.
Warr recommended an alternative to improve traffic in the downtown area that fit inside the existing project’s footprint, and City Manager Jeff Moon said keeping the new proposal in the existing footprint is important.
Moon said it would mean the city can do the new widening project “without having to acquire any additional right of way.”
Councilman Warren Johnson said he wanted to see more details about the new proposed plan, and Moon suggested an August work session for the council to review and discuss the proposed plan. The council did not set a date for the meeting.