Letter: Bigger Than Union Street

Letter: Bigger Than Union Street

— To the Editor:

A high speed runway for bikers coming out of the Wilkes Street tunnel; no left turns onto King Street off Union Street; no consideration of future density on the waterfront; disavowing traffic congestion in favor of traffic calming on Union Street; a continued failure to ensure active police oversight of King and Union street intersection; and considering only Union street traffic thus disregarding other traffic circulating within the Union Street Corridor grid up to Washington Street. Yes, these are but a few of the many shortcomings in the Union Street Corridor Traffic study proposed by the city’s Transportation and Environmental Services Department (T&ES) and its highly paid consultants.

By putting a traffic calming “hump” across Union Street as an extension of the path coming out of the Wilkes Street tunnel, T&ES will create a high speed runway onto Union street for the high speed biker twits who rarely if ever stop there or at any other stop sign on Union Street. This will increase the odds that a biker will eventually meet his/her maker.

Recommending that vehicles can make no left turns onto King Street from Union Street totally inconveniences’ everyone living in Old Town. A better idea would be to not allow those turns during the peak traffic hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The original Waterfront Plan took into effect the traffic on Washington Street. T&ES has now baselined the traffic only to Union Street. No consideration to what the traffic might be when all of the proposed waterfront density occurs in future years. Without considering that future density this study is useless. There is no hurry to implement the Union Street Small Area Plan. When the court actions are completed we will then know what zoning will be allowable thus dictating what density we can expect to plan for in the future.

Most of the proposed traffic fixes on Union Street, especially those around Windmill Hill Park, are nothing more than traffic calming measures. In fact, some of those changes will chase Union Street traffic up to Lee Street which is our narrowest street in the Old and Historic District.

The intersection at King and Union Streets continues to be a major problem for both pedestrians and vehicles especially on weekends. Police continue to be present at the intersection but do nothing to alleviate cars fighting pedestrians and vice versa. It appears that after numerous appeals to have police officers stand out in the middle of the intersection and direct traffic that they have made a conscious decision to never do that. After the 2000 election when I ran for council, one of my initiatives was to have police officer’s direct traffic on Route 1 and Washington Street during the peak hours. The council adopted that initiative and it worked.

The only street being considered in the Union Street Corridor Traffic Study is Union Street. There are a myriad of other problems that need to be addressed within the traffic grid which includes all the streets from the waterfront to Washington Street. Without considering the other streets and their resultant traffic effects leaves much to be desired.

Hopefully the council will be savvy enough to ensure that this plan is well vetted. We don’t need to adopt another T&ES debacle. BRAC 133 was enough.

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet