Walden Traffic Concerns

Thursday, October 29, 2020

If you are concerned about the traffic problems that would occur if the Food City strip development were built, you will be interested to know what Mayor Trohanis has recently done to undermine a potential solution to those problems. 

In October 2019, when the Town Board approved the rezoning for the Food City development (by a 2-1 vote with Vice Mayor Davis opposed), a condition was that the town would select an engineer to conduct a traffic impact study on the effects of the development. The condition provided that the developer (or his successor) would pay for any improvements to Taft Highway and to the intersection of Taft and Timesville Road to address any significant impact identified by the study. 

Unfortunately, Mayor Trohanis has taken an action that undermines this condition and may mean that important highway improvements are not made. 

Complicating the matter is that in April 2019, the developer, John Anderson, obtained a traffic study. Mr. Anderson has repeatedly said that his traffic study shows that the development would not cause any significant traffic problems. That study looked only at the Timesville Road/Taft Highway intersection.

The town did select an engineering company and made an agreement in March with that company for an independent study. An important part of the study was the traffic counts. The agreement called for traffic counts at three intersections. The expectation was that the counts would be conducted when schools were open, but COVID intervened. 

In July, the mayor decided to speed things up and told the engineering firm to get the study done even though schools were not open and people were still staying home. The mayor’s rush caused the engineering company to use the traffic count of the Anderson study and to consider only the Timesville Road intersection and to ignore the other two intersections called for in the agreement with the engineering company. 

Because the town’s study relied heavily on the Anderson study, the town’s study is not an independent assessment. Also, the town’s study has a narrower focus than called for in the agreement because only one intersection (instead of three) was considered. Even still, the town study said that two turn lanes should be added to Taft Highway. However, because of the narrower focus, the town’s study may not have identified all of the improvements that should be made to Taft and the other two intersections. 

So, here’s where we are now.  The mayor’s action has undermined the independence of the town’s traffic study. That action narrowed the scope and focus of the town’s study so that not all potential intersection complications were considered. The end result is that the condition designed to address traffic problems has been seriously weakened. 

The mayor’s failure to think through what he was doing could mean: (1) that the traffic problems resulting from the proposed development will not be adequately addressed and (2) that the town will wind up paying for substantial highway improvements. 

The mayor often refers to the 23 conditions in the ordinance approving the proposed development and wrongly claims that the conditions are an “improvement” on the Village Center requirements he voted to throw out. It is ironic that he is now undermining one of those conditions—a condition that addresses serious concerns that residents have about traffic problems resulting from the proposed development.

The mayor has created this situation. What will he do to fix it?

Joe Robbins, Sr.
Walden



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