Waynesville seeks solutions to Russ traffic problems

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer

Nearly two years after receiving a grant to study traffic issues on Russ Avenue, Waynesville is finally moving forward with the project.

Town planner Paul Benson said the proposal for the study has morphed in recent weeks amid growing concerns about traffic problems.

“I think originally the idea was for the project to be more of a beautification project looking at landscaping, medians and street trees, but we want to have more emphasis now on traffic flow, intersections and access management issues,” Benson said.

Some of the goals for the project include analyzing future travel demand, roadway capacity, better intersections, and looking at design for pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

The $40,000 grant to do the corridor study has sat untouched for nearly two years. In the meantime, traffic along the clogged artery has worsened, sparking a round of complaints from citizens begging the town to take action.

Benson said last week he has sent out a formal proposal to various DOT-recommended consultants notifying them of the project. The consultant selected to work on the project will have to evaluate Russ Avenue in strict compliance with Waynesville’s land-use plan.

As more and more communities are emphasizing smart growth, however, companies with experience in that area are increasingly easier to come by.

“(Smart growth) is pretty popular. Making walkable communities and multimodal transportation — those are buzzwords now nationally,” said Benson.

It should take about four weeks for the town to select a company to work with. After that, a series of public meetings will be held to gather input about conditions on Russ Avenue and what should be done about them.

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