Thursday, April 19

Solutions to Potential Accidents

Jacksonville has plenty of potential problems on the road, especially the fast surface roads that are treated like mini-expressways. On my side of town, that's Beach, Atlantic, and McCormick. I decided to take one area of concern to me that I know well and suggest some solutions. While I know this has been looked at before and deemed un-fixable, I believe that the city might want to reconsider before someone gets into a major accident for lack of planning, which I would argue happens daily in Jax.

When I was in Milwaukee, my first and best suggestion for the government was to come visit an area of concern. It's not all about computer models, zoning, or economic development. And it's certainly not all about money. The answers aren't always impossible, and they are not always standard operating procedure. The solution also depends on the usage, not just what the planners believe the usage should be. I am focusing on a school day situation during rush hour.

The image above shows the current setup for entering and leaving Grace Lutheran on McCormick. The main entrance and exit is on McCormick, with a side entrance on Running River Rd. This secondary entrance is not usable after school for the main school pickup entrance because cars are lined up for day care pickup. What this means is that a single entrance and exit on McCormick is being used for all entrances and most exits as school gets out. The school even has to man the entrance with a traffic cop of sorts.

The school and church asked about adding another exit on the east side of the parking lot, but it was denied. That was a mistake, and a recent accident proved the mistake. Even if it requires an easement, this should happen, but the solution could go even further in order to create safer roadway. Remember, this affects those traveling on McCormick just as much as those who use the school. Let's look at some ideas.

U-Turn and Exit
This shows the simple exit on the east end of the parking lot, relieving half of the pressure off the main entrance. This solution also shows an idea I had for a dual-purpose turn lane off of McCormick at Running River. There's enough room to add a dedicated u-turn lane as well as the left turn lane. Just visit Grace at 2:45 on a school day to see why this would work so well. Sure, it's not anything I've ever seen before, but someone in Jacksonville knows how to be open to new ideas, right?

U-Turn and Ramp
This solution uses the same u-turn idea, but it includes a ramp that ties into the existing right turn ramp on McCormick to Kernan. This takes up more space, but it avoids having to relocate sewers. However, it does not add an actual entrance, and those who are leaving are relegated to going east or south. Actually, that's probably safer than letting people get onto McCormick to make a u-turn to go back west.

Wrong Way
I wish a solution like this would work, but it would actually add more pressure to the main entrance. In fact, this seemingly obvious answer of cutting into the median will create daily near misses because of the tight entrance and abundance of options for drivers. If it included a signal light, that might be different, but most churches don't rate as high as gas stations or other places that seem to warrant help from planners.

The good news is that I'm just one person with some ideas. And this is just one place with a problem. People who use the roads in Jacksonville need to get involved, but the city has to allow it. So far, I'm at four emails and counting to city representatives without an answer. But I'll keep trying.

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