Residents welcome 3-way stop on Westmoreland Lake Drive
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – The woman seemed puzzled, but, nonetheless, she stopped her small, white car at the stop sign on Westmoreland Lake Drive at Island Overlook Court. She noticed Denise Addington standing on her porch nearby and said, “Never saw that before.”
“It’s new, and thanks for stopping,” a delighted Addington said. The woman waved and continued on her way.
In less than an hour Friday afternoon, May 20, a four-man crew from Cornelius’ Public Works Department installed three stop signs at the T-intersection, as well as signs in both directions on Westmoreland Lake Drive telling approaching cars: “Caution: New Traffic Pattern.”
“We’re ecstatic!” Addington said after the crew finished with the last sign. For more than a year, Westmoreland Lake Drive residents have been asking town officials to take steps to slow traffic on the main street – and only entrance – to the Westmoreland community from West Catawba Avenue. Town officials decided earlier this month to install the three-way stop. Though most of the people who live along the street, would rather have seen the town install speed humps to present a physical obstacle to speeders to a stop sign. But Addington said she and others appreciate the stop signs and hope they will do the job.
“The traffic was dangerous,” Addington said.
If their children, 7 and 12 years old, were in the front yard, she or her husband, Scott, always stationed themselves there as protection or they would park their cars along the street to offer a physical barrier, she said.
Residents of the street also are grateful to the Cornelius Police Department, which “has been so much more visible” since hearing homeowners’ concerns about the traffic, Addington said.
Last fall, Cornelius officials began studying traffic volumes on the street, which is the only way in and out of Westmoreland for homeowners and residents of an apartment complex at the end of the subdivision. But problems with a computer in a speed trailer delayed recommendations from the town.
Then on Easter Sunday morning, a Cornelius man, later charged with driving while impaired, slammed his Ford Expedition into a tree just down the street from the Addingtons. The man almost hit another car, knocked over a mailbox and hit the tree going about 45 mph, and residents, led by neighborhood Karl Roe, renewed their call for town action.
In less than a week, town officials responded with the offer of the three-way stop.
In an email to Roe, Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant explained the town’s decision after analyzing data from the speed trailer, collecting historical police data and inspecting the street itself.
The town found:
• The speed trailer recorded average speeds of 23 to 25 mph. The street has a posted 20-mph speed limit.
• Cornelius police have issued about seven tickets on Westmoreland Lake Drive in the past year, most at the intersection of Westmoreland Lake Drive and West Catawba Avenue. Only one ticket was issued for speed.
• Police data also show five accidents in the past five years. Only two involved speed, and in both those cases, the driver was intoxicated.
By town standards, Westmoreland Lake Drive is too wide to install speed humps, especially since both sides have on-street parking, Grant wrote. The street is 41 feet wide, and town guidelines set a 40-foot maximum.
“Installing a speed hump only in the travel lanes also creates issues with vehicles avoiding the speed hump by going into the parking areas,” Grant wrote. “Also, there is not enough safe separation between intersections and a potential speed hump.”
Town policy requires speed humps be 200 feet from an intersection. No stretch of Westmoreland Lake Drive is 200 feet from a T-intersection.
Town officials believe installing the three-way stop at Westmoreland Lake Drive and Island Overlook Court “would help with the neighborhood’s desire for traffic calming,” Grant wrote. “The town has installed these in other neighborhoods with successful results.”