City officials hope a traffic study on Burke Mill Road will point the way to easing woes on a road that runs parallel to the even busier Hanes Mall Boulevard.
Something needs doing, said Betty Myers, as she looked out the window at traffic struggling through the intersection at Griffith and Burke Mill roads.
Myers was minding the store for her husband, Glenn, at Myers Grocery, which sits by the intersection in a building that looks like a country store from days gone by.
Through the window, she could see a truck going south on Griffith Road and waiting for traffic to clear for a left turn.
“It is horrendous,” she said. “It is hurting our business. When people get off work, traffic gets so bad that they won’t let anyone turn left to get into our parking lot.”
Traffic on Burke Mill has gotten worse, Myers said, since land on the west end of the road at Stratford Road was developed.
Jeff Fansler, assistant transportation director for Winston-Salem, calls Burke Mill Road a “perfect storm.”
“It is a relief valve for Hanes Mall Boulevard, which is extremely congested” Fansler said. “It goes to Stratford Road and Silas Creek Parkway just like Hanes Mall Boulevard, so it is like a brother to Hanes Mall Boulevard, only narrower.”
One end of Burke Mill Road begins as an extension of Bolton Street, which connects to Silas Creek Parkway and Hawthorne Road. The other end of Burke Mill crosses Stratford Road and turns into Atwood Road.
Along the way, side streets from Burke Mill make all kinds of connections that are busy with traffic. London Lane cuts through to Ebert Road. Kimel Park and Kimel Forest drives connect to buildings in a large medical office park. More offices line Frontis Plaza, which does double duty as a cut-through to Hanes Mall Boulevard.
Griffith Road runs north and south between Hanes Mall Boulevard and Clemmonsville Road.
“We have speeding problems,” Fansler said. “Woodland Hills Drive comes right at a curve, so there are sight-distance and speed problems and people trying to turn at the intersection.”
South Ward Council Member John Larson, who represents the area, notes that some stretches of Burke Mill Road have sidewalks, other do not, and the sidewalks that do exist are stop and start. Stretches with sidewalks on both sides are the exception, not the rule.
“There are issues of pedestrians, bikes and cars,” Larson said. “People have trouble making left turns into some residential areas. There are questions about additional stop lights. It seemed appropriate to look at that corridor and ask what can be done to make it safer and simplify the traffic patterns.”
I.B. Southerland, who has lived on London Lane for 42 years, said he has seen traffic get progressively worse over that time.
“It is the volume of traffic, and right now they don’t have any way to reroute it,” Southerland said. “Some afternoons it is backed up from Ebert to Burke Mill Road.”
The city picked John Davenport Engineering Inc. in January to do the traffic study at a contract cost of about $150,000.
Fansler said the work will include traffic modeling and forecasting to identify the critical issues and possible solutions. People are likely to see traffic counting devices at various places during the study, Fansler said.
“London Lane is a hot topic,” Fansler said. “That is probably the biggest one. It is probably one of the most critical locations we can study. People use it as a cut-through.”
As the study proceeds, Fansler said, people who live in the various neighborhoods along Burke Mill Road will get the chance to speak about their concerns in public meetings.
The city is hoping to have the results of the study in hand by the end of the year.
“We anticipate safety and efficiency recommendations,” Fansler said. “There will be sketches of improvements at point locations. There may be some realignment (proposed) and work with sight-distance issues.”
The results will also be posted online, he added.
“It will be up to the city to find funding and find out what they want to do with the public input,” Fansler said.
Back at Myers Grocery, Glenn Myers said that when he goes out to take the readings off the gas pumps, he has to put out traffic cones to block the path of drivers who cut across the lot, looking to dodge the traffic light.
“They come from the back of the parking lot, come around the gas pumps and go down the road just getting it,” Myers said. “Somewhere down the road, people are going to get hurt. They come through the parking lot just a-flying.”