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‘Most Confusing Intersection in Town’ to be Improved; Speed Limit Change on New Market Boulevard Tabled

By Paul T. Choate

Oct. 17, 2012. The intersection of Queen Street and North Depot Street is set to get some improvements following a unanimous decision by the Boone Town Council at their Oct. 16 meeting to approve the Transportation Committee’s request for crosswalks. 

According to Public Works Director Blake Brown, crosswalks will be put at the intersection to better allow for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. At a later date, additional sidewalks may also be added. 

“Just having the library there and so much pedestrian traffic having kids walk back and forth without a crosswalk is an issue, so this is good to address this right now,” said Council Member Andy Ball. 

Steve Steele, owner of SOS Printing, located at 130 N. Depot St., called the intersection “the most confusing intersection in town.”

“I’ve seen more than one accident — or almost an accident — happen there,” Steele said.

Also in the approved request are significant improvements for the parking area along Queen Street. The center median will be widened and the parking meters will be removed. Brown said there will be two pay stations put in along Queen Street to replace the parking meters. He said the pay stations will cost between $8,000 and $9,000 each.

The permit-only parking near the intersection at Water Street will remain and Brown said he hopes no parking spaces will be lost in the process.

The Transportation Committee also requested that the speed limit on New Market Boulevard be changed from 35 mph to 25 mph due to safety concerns associated with the volume of traffic, pedestrian and bicycle travel. 

“Living near there, it’s scary to see skid marks where kids are crossing the street,” said Council Member Lynne Mason. 

Council Member Jamie Leigh expressed some concern regarding the request.

“I just hate to see everything going to 25 mph because I can tell you, people don’t like going 25 when it’s not necessary,” Leigh said. “I want everyone to be safe, let’s be clear about this, but this is not a neighborhood. This is a city street. … I don’t think it is passing through an area that is dangerous in my estimation.”

When asked by Ball if setting the speed limit to 30 mph would help, Brown responded, “I hate to say this, I really do, but whenever you take it down to 25 mph you estimate the traffic is going to go about 30.”

Ultimately, the council requested that Brown have the Public Works Department do a pedestrian count along New Market Boulevard to determine if a lower speed limit is necessary. The issue was tabled until next month and a decision will be made following a review of the Public Works Department’s findings.