At the Board of Public Works meeting tonight, members reviewed proposed changes to the traffic controls and parking at the corner of 8th Street and Palmetto Ave. near the Marshfield Middle School after concerns were raised by citizens in the area.
In response to a question from Alderman Chris Jockheck, City Engineer Tom Turchi said that this issue would likely not have been raised if not brought up by citizens, as there have only been two non-fatal incidents reported at this intersection between 2014-2018.
“The Intersection Crash Rate and Severity Rate were both .52. and the Intersection Crash Density was .4,” he said in his report. “None of these warrant any type of immediate action.”
Turchi also explained that a review of vision triangles revealed there are no obstructions per the City Code for Vision Triangle Obstructions. He did note that vehicles can cause temporary obstructions and therefore, for additional safety to the children using this intersection, restricting parking near the intersection will help remove these temporary obstructions.
Turchi recommended the following:
1. Traffic control at the intersection of East 8th Street and South Palmetto Avenue be two way stop controlled so that Palmetto Avenue stops for 8th Street. Special note, this traffic control change occurs after the school year is over.
2. That parking is to be prohibited on Palmetto Avenue on both sides of Palmetto Avenue from the North line of 8th Street to 50 feet north of the north line of 8th Street.
3. That parking is to be prohibited on Palmetto Avenue on both sides of Palmetto Avenue from the south line of 8th Street to 50 feet south of the south line of 8th Street.
4. That parking is to be prohibited on East 8th Street on both sides of East 8th Street from the west line of Palmetto Avenue to 50 feet west of the west line of Palmetto Avenue.
5. That parking is to be prohibited on East 8th Street on north side of East 8th Street from the east line of Palmetto Avenue to 50 feet east of the east line of Palmetto Avenue.
6. I further recommend the “Administrative Code to Traffic and Parking” be amended to reflect these changes.
City Engineer Tom Turchi’s above recommendations to switch the stop signs at this intersection to stop traffic on Palmetto Ave (instead of 8th) and update parking restrictions to allow a better vision triangle.
Police Chief Rick Gramza was against the stop sign change, but in favor of changing parking restrictions to allow for a better vision triangle.
“Despite it being busy, it’s an organized busy. People are used to it,” said Gramza. “I completely agree with the vision triangles and the safety…It’s an area that we monitor regularly. The control, switching it from 8th to Palmetto, is what I don’t agree with…My concern is that it’s something new that people are going to have to get used to.”
Gramza expressed concern that changing the control would result in more speeding through the intersection, which funnels traffic from Veterans Parkway into town.
Alderman and Board member Tom Witzel suggested changing the intersection to a four-way stop.
“It does seem strange to me that we have Palmetto, with very little traffic, with the through and 8th Street, with the significantly higher volume, with the stop,” he said. “I understand the Chief’s concern with a significant amount of traffic with no reason to stop at Palmetto…Rather than having a busy street stop for a not-busy street exclusively, but also to avoid the issue that the Chief is expressing, why not do a 4-way stop?”
Turchi did not recommend that change.
After discussion, Turchi’s parking recommendations (to improve visibility at that intersection) were approved. The Board ultimately decided to table the other aspects of the issue until a new traffic study could be conducted. The updated study would include weekend traffic. Because of snowplowing operations, the Board has to wait until spring. Regardless, any change would not have been implemented until after the school year.