The only 45-mile
per hour speed limit within the town of Wrightsville Beach was lowered to 35
mph in a unanimous vote by the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen.
At the board’s
meeting on Thursday, Oct. 10, representatives from the North Carolina
Department of Transportation said the decision to change the speed limit on
Salisbury Street to 35 mph would be common sense.
NCDOT assistant division traffic engineer, said the risk of a pedestrian
fatality decreases from 22 percent to 7 percent between 40 and 30 mph, and that
the slower speed would only ad 20 seconds to a motorist’s trip down the 1.3
miles of Salisbury Street.
“I think it
makes logical sense, I think it would be good for not only residential
motorists but also the ones coming in from out of town so they know when they
are driving around the Loop it is a consistent speed limit,” Eckart said.
The last speed
study completed by NCDOT on Salisbury Street was in 2010 and in that study
NCDOT division engineer Karen Fussell said 85 percent of the drivers were
traveling at less than 45 mph. That statistic was another reason NCDOT
recommended lowering the speed limit, Fussell said. “When we do these speed
studies rarely is the 85th percentile less than the posted speed,”
Collins expressed concern that NCDOT had not conducted a more recent speed
study on Salisbury Street and said she would be in favor of waiting until
another was completed to address the speed limit.
“With the bridge
construction going on right now I feel like that all of this is premature,”
Collins said. “We don’t even know what the traffic flow is going to be like
when the bridge is back.”
Eckart said a new study would not likely show anything different and that the
change would undoubtedly be an improvement to pedestrian and cyclist safety.
residents spoke in favor of the speed limit reduction during the public
hearing, including newly appointed Wrightsville Beach Foundation co-president
“You know we
went through this a year ago … I really can’t believe we are even discussing
this, I mean it makes perfect common sense,” Smith said. “The worst thing is we
have a town ordinance that says you can’t ride your bike on the sidewalk so now
you are telling mom and dad to ride in the street with their kids next to 45
John Powell also called for the board to make a judgment based on common sense.
“As a physician
practicing for over 45 years one of my goals has always been to offer common
sense advice and I find it unbelievable that anyone would not consider DOT’s
recommendation for safety,” Powell said. “Anything less is not using good
conclusion of the discussion and public input the board passed lowering the
speed limit to 35 mph on the entirety of Salisbury Street up to the municipal
town limits on the eastern half of the Heide Trask Drawbridge. Fussell said her
department would work with the City of Wilmington to have the 35 mph zone
extend further west over the bridge.
potential transportation infrastructure change will be subject of a special
public hearing set for Thursday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall. During the
board’s review of possible bike, pedestrian and intersection improvement
projects the town could submit for grant funding the board could not agree on
the amount of public input the town should illicit before applying for a grant.
Collins and Elizabeth King said they thought the board agreed not to apply for
any grants until a year after the town’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan was
approved in February.
While they were
not against setting another public hearing, Wrightsville Beach Mayor David
Cignotti and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson pointed out that these projects were
coming from the Comprehensive Transportation Plan that was formed using citizen
The project up
for discussion at the public hearing would encompass improvements to the Waynick
Boulevard, Causeway Drive and North Lumina Avenue intersection at a total
budgeted cost of $292,000. If awarded the grant the town would be required to
contribute at least 20 percent of the project cost, or $58,400.