Letters to the Editor - February 11, 2016
The recent article in The Daniel Island News regarding “Intersection Improvement Plan Heads in ‘New Direction’” is the wrong direction.
Granted, most of us are aware of the statistics about the intersection at Seven Farms Drive and Daniel Island Drive. Even if you have not paid any attention to the news regarding the number and frequency of problems there, surely you have observed problems first hand if you live or travel through that part of the island.
Please understand that I am not opposed to rotaries in general. They can be a good solution for many traffic situations. In fact, studies have shown that traffic throughout is actually faster and have fewer accidents when applied in the proper way.
However, I have two concerns about converting this intersection to a rotary. The first is the safety of pedestrians. Even with traffic signals that are pedestrian operated, this intersection is a potential hazard to them. The signals do not stop traffic in all four directions at the same time. Pedestrian light signals are not even present. Students from BE frequently cross this intersection three to four times a day, to-from school and to-from lunch. Pedestrians who are elderly and those with carriages cannot cross the four lanes of Seven Farms Drive easily. The time allowed by the crossing signals is far too short.
My second concern is the available space to install a rotary. Studies show that rotaries should be large enough to allow good flow of traffic inside the circle and to allow good flow of those turning to the right off the rotary. This will require a 50-60 foot radius for the center of the circle. With a highway minimum requirement of 30 feet for traffic travel, that would make the required space greater than the space available at that intersection. SC Highway Code 57-5-330 requires a minimum of 60 feet for a highway right of way. Besides losing the planting area at the East end of the Seven Farms Drive at that intersection, some of both church properties would have to be condemned and taken by eminent domain. So, if the signals are removed and replaced with a rotary, even the small help now offered by the signals will be lost!
Take a good look at the new rotaries just installed in Mt. Pleasant. One is on Long Point Road and another in Market Center near Lowe’s. There are few concerns for pedestrians at these locations but imagine how they would work here on DI. I have included a link to an article in the Post and Currier detailing the same type of proposal for the Coleman/Ben Sawyer intersection. Please read this article! http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20160125/PC16/160129792
I believe by trimming the vegetation on Seven Farms Drive, widening the approaches on both Daniel Island Drive & Seven Farms so that both left turns are traffic light controlled, improving pedestrian crossing signals, this intersection will be made safe for all.
DINA meeting raises more questions about the Roundabout
With a standing room only crowd at this week’s DINA meeting, everyone was poised to hear details about the rumor of a roundabout at Seven Farms and Daniel Island Dr.
What we got was short on details and long on promises.
Everyone up until two weeks ago was under the perception that a project had been reviewed through DINA meetings, a budget approved and funded and a start date for this June. The solution that was offered was to add a turn lane and changes to the signals. The construction was going to be concluded by the end of summer for the start of school.
However, the invisible hand has taken over, found over $2,000,000 to build a roundabout with construction to be defined. Just like the annexation issue, some unknown group of people has decided behind closed doors what needs to be done.
While the engineer from the city who spoke over a year ago on the additional turn lane made an excellent presentation with detailed to scale drawings, what we got at last week’s meeting was an artist rending of the corner.
The meeting only allowed three or four questions from the attendees on such an important topic. I must offer an apology if people thought that I was rude in speaking up, but to limit public questions to five minutes on this topic is unfathomable.
There are US Department studies sighting that roundabouts are safer than signalized intersections. The most cited reason is speed. However these studies are assuming that the roundabout is reducing the speed from an average of 47 mph to 25 mph. This would not be the case as the speed is already 25mph. These studies indicate that pedestrians are safer although the pedestrian crossings in the study are smaller samples than our intersection would have. The studies do admit that bicycles may not fare as well and do cite the slower pace of seniors. The NCHRP report 672 indicates that in high traffic areas pedestrian signals might be needed.
I am sure I could find a study from Mackinaw Island in Michigan that indicates horses are safer than cars.
What is missing in all of this is the soul of Daniel Island. We are not Mt. Pleasant, nor I’ON or Rifle Range Road, We are Daniel Island. This is the most pedestrian sensitive intersection on the entire island. We celebrate this intersection for what Daniel Island is: on two corners churches of different faiths, on another the affordable housing, on the other side of the street we celebrate the lives of our elderly at Summit Place and the hope for our futures with the children at DI Academy. This intersection then leads into the business district where families meet to enjoy pizza outside Orlando’s or pickup their kids from karate.
Here are questions that need to be answered:
What is the process? They, whoever they are, have already decided that this is the answer while the engineer admitted that a traffic study hasn’t been done. I thought DINA was our community voice with the city on these issues.
How do we have an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked?
What happened to the original idea that was to be started in June?
If roundabouts are so good why wasn’t one put at the corner of Fairchild and River Landing rather than a signal?
In a terrible coincidence, at this meeting, a resident reported of the terrible accident by the DI School of a child hit in the crosswalk. Do we really think that our children, our seniors, our bike riders and now our hoverboarders are going to be safer at a roundabout?
In the highway study it talks of gaps in traffic. The very times that the intersection is busiest, the morning and afternoon school rush will provide no gaps for pedestrians or cars. If you don’t make it to the intersection coming from the DI School before BE lets out, won’t you be waiting longer than you do now?
With the new Phillip Simmons School being open down by Nellifield, won’t this take traffic away from this intersection?
With a constant flow of traffic from the roundabout on Seven Farms Dr., won’t this put people in danger trying to cross the road to support our local businesses? I use the crosswalk at Pier View twice a day, and cars stop about 30% of the time, and I’m a much bigger target than some school children. Maybe making Pier View a one way street leading to River Landing now will prevent future accidents?
If we can get $2 million so easy can’t we use it to make all residential streets one side parking immediately?
Can’t we use that residual money to get the School Zone lighting and enforcement that we need? Just asking.
Thank you responsive community leaders
I want to take this opportunity to thank those individuals responsible for the removal of the unsightly industrial dumpster positioned near our DI Trail and across the home views of DI residents. I contacted the Daniel Island Community Association regarding the presence of this huge, filled-to-capacity bright blue eye sore in an otherwise lovely, serene area walkers, runners, and bikers enjoy daily. Rosie Stieby and Bob Welsh of DI Real Estate responded promptly to my concerns. Within a week the dumpster was removed, and I learned from Bob that it was Barbara McLaughlin, Manager of Community Services, who initiated the call and discussion with Bishop England High School whose property the dumpster was located on.
I thank all three of you for demonstrating the ongoing practice of productive community involvement by its local leaders. I met Rosie online a year ago while deciding if the Charleston area was where I should move to. Knowing I was widowed and would be living a day’s drive from my children, and a nature lover at heart, she urged me to consider Daniel Island. When I visited Daniel Island last Spring with my daughters and knowing I wasn’t really interested in owning another home, Rosie still gave us an enthusiastic and memorable tour of Daniel Island. She patiently answered all the many questions my concerned daughters posed to her. So thank you again, Rosie, this second time around. I do also want to thank Bishop England High School administration for their prompt attention, cooperation, and subsequent removal of the dumpster.