Stop sign proposedBrookings City Council plans to discuss at a future meeting an idea proposed by a resident to erect a stop sign at what they all call a “complex” intersection at Memory Lane, Railroad and Wharf streets, which all converge in a haphazard fashion in the space of about an eighth of a block.
The city succeeded in diverting local traffic from Chetco Avenue when it rebuilt Railroad Street to be wider, include sidewalks and a center turn lane, and that is contributing to congestion at the five-way intersection, The Cove resident and homeowner’s association president Paul Whitworth told the council at a workshop Monday afternoon.
He said it’s not a speed, but congestion, issue, with drivers often having to wait long extra minutes to get onto Railroad Street from the side streets. It’s exacerbated by the busyness created by Bi-Mart, the Post Office, KidZone, city shops and increasingly popular visits to Chetco Point Park at the end of Wharf Street. A pedestrian crosswalk with a warning light also contributes to the confusion there.
“I’ve surveyed the community and businesses and found consensus that this is a hazardous intersection and a four-way stop is the right solution,” Whitworth said.
The city installed a traffic-data gathering device last year near Wharf and Railroad streets to count the number of vehicles that pass through the area every day, said Public Works and Development Director Tony Baron.
In a 10 day period, 27,512 vehicles went through the intersection, Baron said. Of those, 49 cars were traveling faster than 35 mph; the posted speed limit is 25 mph.
“When you have new pavement, a new road, it’s pedal to the metal,” said Councilor Ron Hedenskog. “We could see that coming when we did Railroad Street.”
But it’s still a lot of cars, Whitworth said. The figures mean more than 2,700 cars drive through the area every day, or 112 an hour. Given those statistics are over a 24-hour period, and there are fewer cars in the wee hours of the night, the daytime traffic crush is much higher, Whitworth noted.
He also wondered how much traffic will increase along Railroad Street when the summer tourism season begins.
“Chetco Point is just getting active,” he said of the park on which the city has done myriad improvements in the past year. “You, as a city, are pushing traffic down there. Does someone have to die there — that’s what the mayor (Jake Pieper’s) father said. Is that really going to happen.”
Pieper’s father, Bob, owns Hearth and Home, within a block of Memory Lane.
Police Lt. Donnie Dotson noted that of the 619 crashes in town from 2014 to 2018, seven were at the intersection of Wharf and Railroad streets.
Three involved drivers pulling into another’s path of travel, two were improper lane turns. One involved a driver who didn’t see a motorcycle and the other was an illegal U-turn in front of an oncoming vehicle.
The majority of the council agreed it would likely require a traffic study to erect stop signs along Railroad Street, which could cost at least $20,000. Others said they thought a stop sign — Whitworth proposed placing one at the southern corner of the empty lot across from Memory Lane — would back traffic up to the stop signs at Wharf Street, resulting in gridlock.
Whitworth was adamant.
“You have a community that wants this,” he said. “Local businesses want this. This is the wishes of the community, and that’s kind of what you guys are supposed to do. One accident there — one death … Something needs to be added there. It’s not a safe intersection.”
Hedenskog was the only one willing to entertain the idea of foregoing a traffic study, erecting a sign and determining if there were any adverse effects.
“I have no problem with a stop sign,” he said. “We can always pull it back down. We took a street that was cracked, rutted and narrow and paved it and people use it. We’re not dealing with Highway 101 where we have to put everything through the slow, grinding process of ODOT. This is a city road. I don’t see a problem with trying it out.”
Other councilors, however, noted that people who have driven through a given intersection for years often are oblivious to new signage and that could result in more accidents there. City Manager Janell Howard noted that installing a sign without a study could open the city to liability issues, as well.
“If we put a stop sign where everyone wants a stop sign, there’d be no traffic movement in town,” said Councilor Brent Hodges. “We have a couple of funky streets that come together that aren’t ideal.”
The council agreed to bring the matter to a future city council meeting where it could talk with residents in the area.
In other news:
The city will consider at a future workshop details regarding a request to allow Rainbow Rock Condominiums at the north end of town to tap into the city’s water main and resell it to residents there.
The Rainbow Rock Service Association currently provides water services to the 60 units there via a 75,000-gallon tank filled by a creek that runs through the Lone Ranch subdivision. The vice-president of that association said the units use about 6,000 gallons a day and that the meter taking water from the creek only runs about 5 percent of the time to keep the tank filled.
Increased activity on the Lone Ranch property — primarily the felling of trees to make way for a proposed neighborhood — creates turbidity in the creek water that forces the system to shut down.