City To Remove Light At Mason And Bruce

Press Release -- October 27th, 2010

Beginning November 1, 2010 the traffic signal at the intersection of S. Mason Street & E. Bruce Street will be in flash operation for a period of 30 days. If no significant conflicts arise in that time, the signal will be removed in its entirety.

Upon removal, stop signs will be installed to control traffic on E. Bruce Street, while S. Mason Street will have free flow travel. Public Works staff will be monitoring the operational efficiency and safety of the intersection during this process to ensure a smooth transition.

This traffic signal was installed when S. Mason Street was part of the city’s truck route. The truck route has since shifted and the traffic signal is no longer warranted. City staff arrived at this conclusion through a detailed study of traffic, roadway, and other conditions at the intersection, the guidelines for which are set forth by the Federal Highway Administration.

The removal of this signal is intended to reduce vehicular delays, discourage cut through traffic in the Old Town Neighborhood, and decrease maintenance costs for traffic engineering.

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22 Responses to “City To Remove Light At Mason And Bruce”

  1. Brooke says:

    While this *might* help reduce the cut through traffic on Bruce it is unlikely to resolve any of the issues on Mason, and is likely to make those even worse. In fact, that light is one of the few things that can slow down the flow of traffic between Cantrell and 33 (and visa versa). The light makes crossing both Bruce and Mason easier, because you know traffic has to stop when the light is red going that way. My concern is that will merely increase the rate of speed on Mason as people don’t have to stop anywhere along Mason between Cantrell and 33.

    Essentially the current traffic calming measures intend to push the cut through traffic on streets like Bruce, Franklin and Paul to Mason. While I understand the reasons for that, and agree in theory, as someone who lives on Mason and already deals with a lot of speeding and other pedestrian woes on Mason, I want to know how they plan to deal with the increased speed and traffic that is sure to result on Mason. Increased ticketing (long-term)? Speed tables? Increased speed limit signage?

    If people would go 25, it would be much safer to cross the streets, but seeing as a lot of people go 35+ on Mason it because increasingly dangerous to cross, even in what few crosswalks there are. I think removing the signal is only going to make that worse unless other measures are put in place to deal with the increased traffic, and likely increase in speeding.

    • Renee says:

      Is there an option to turn it into a 4-way stop instead?

      • Brooke says:

        I wish there was, but no, they’re just trying to discourage using side roads as cut throughs, and encourage people to actually use Mason as the main cut through instead.

  2. seth says:

    brooke,
    one of the suggestions at the meeting regarding traffic in old town a couple of months ago was for residents and other concerned citizens to drive slower than the speed limit. i’ve really taken a shining to travelling 20 down mason. i think that if people see residents concertedly driving below the speed limit, they may choose to find alternative routes.

    • David Miller says:

      I make it a daily ritual to drive like my grandfather on Mason. I enjoy a hefty 15mph, especially tailgated. I hate to tell old town folks but there are plenty of other neighborhoods that have speeding problems. In particular Broad street is currently a speedway for dropped civics, motorcycles and 55mph fire engines. It takes great restraint to not install my own speed reducing measures along it (boulders in the middle of the road would be best don’t you think?). I’ll gladly take your Bruce street light on Broad since you are getting rid of it ;)

      On the serious side don’t you think that Mason is a death trap because all of the cars parked on curb because all the renters there aren’t provided off street parking? The road would be great with a bike lane on the west side and parking on the east (downhill biking is easier to keep up with traffic). From the guy who wouldn’t won’t be affected by the changes he proposes.

  3. Brooke says:

    That’s a great suggestion – and one that I do *when* I drive.

  4. Beth says:

    Why not move the light to the corner of Water and Mason? The hundreds of people who live in Urban Exchange cross Mason on the regular, and it isn’t always easy or quick.

    • David Miller says:

      I don’t think that would work, just off the top of my head I think that it would have to be coordinated with the 33 intersection. Otherwise wouldn’t it back up to the 33 intersection.

      I’d prefer to spend on infrastructure via finishing the streetscape project first. If we finish it, we can build out from the center in a coordinated manner that makes sense for all citizens of dtown.

  5. David Miller says:

    I hope that old town residents appreciate the $179,000 the city is about to spend on stabilizing their neighborhood’s safety. I’m for it, just remember to shop downtown please. Even if our sidewalks are half-finished.

    • Brooke says:

      Why would you assume otherwise, David? That post sounds awfully condescending.

      • David Miller says:

        I’m sorry, I was trying to be funny, bad idea. I guess I’m just getting a little frustrated with the streetscape unfinished while other projects get advanced. Its frustrating to hear people talk about wanting a new crosswalk to get from Urban Exchange when our downtown sidewalks are 30 years old. Sorry to be condescending though, that was contrary to my intention. I also think it has a little to do with the fact that there is no one as vocal/effective in my neighborhood which has the exact same problems. (Broad Street).

        • Brooke says:

          Apology accepted. Tone is hard to read online. :-)

          I can understand your frustration. It’s gotta start somewhere – start a petition! I think we had two or three families near the recent accident that really spearhead the Old Town thing, and then got everyone else to join in and get involved.

          I’m not sure about the Urban Exchange thing. I hadn’t even seen that mentioned. Thus far, the talk was more towards the streets like Paul where there wasn’t a crosswalk across Mason for blocks. You’ll note we’re not getting sidewalks, either. Honestly, there are places that could really use them, because of the number of children that walk to and from school, but it’s just not going to happen. Mostly crosswalks, where needed, and some raised intersections where people fly (and I mean FLY) through areas children cross on the way to school.

          So we’ll just be happy (and, yes, VERY appreciative) with our new crosswalks – which contrary to what was posted in a recent DNR article, thus far are actually just normal, everyday white stripe cross walk. They laid the first one down today at Paul and Mason. I wanted to hug the guys that were doing the work, but I refrained and settled for a big smile and a thumbs up. LOL

          • David Miller says:

            Brooke, the cross walks are most definitely needed. I think a lot of change towards safety is needed in that area. I hope that the city can afford the needed changes in Old Towne AND the Streetscape completion for Downtown. I think the long term plan includes tying all of the projects together, I’m a big fan of this type of infrastructure expenditure, it is literally win win. I think the hardest part for council will be in balancing all of these needs with the budget restraints placed upon them by the state government, not to mention reduced local tax revenue.

    • Thanh says:

      I just wanted to chime in to say that the City has not yet committed to spend any funds on the traffic calming measures proposed for Old Town. So far only a plan by the neighborhood has been developed and the plan/proposals will be presented to City Council for consideration and determination of funding allocations around February.

      You can read more about the plan and meeting summaries at: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/trafficcalming

      More information on the Transportation Safety & Advisory Commission and their November meeting summary can be found here: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/tsc Both the traffic calming program and Bruce Street & Mason Street signal were discussed at this meeting.

      • Brooke says:

        I can tell you they have at least put in a crosswalk at Paul and Mason. They did it this morning. Maybe that’s outside the actual proposed plan?

      • Brooke says:

        I think part of your post is sort of misleading. You say “only a plan by the neighborhood has been developed.” My understanding, after the last meeting, was that The Transportation Safety & Advisory Commission came up with the official plan – after considering what representatives from Old Town had requested. Residents were basically told, this is what the plan is – take it or leave it.

        • Thanh says:

          Brooke, I didn’t mean to sound misleading or to be unclear. Sorry about that. The plan was developed by the neighborhood with the technical assistance of city staff who also attended the full neighborhood and neighborhood representative meetings. The Transportation Safety & Advisory Commission is an advisory commission to City Council. Earlier this month, the Commission reviewed the plan developed by the neighborhood and they recommended (to City Council) in favor of the plan. Its ultimately City Council’s decision whether or not to adopt and/or finance the plan when they are presented with it in a few months.

          The crosswalks that have been put down on Mason Street are not a part of the proposed plan, like you said outside of the plan.

          I hope that helps.

        • Thanh says:

          Also, if you have any more questions about the plan or the City’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming in general, please feel free to contact me or other staff at the Public Works Department. My contact is (540) 434-5928 or thanhd [at) harrisonburgva [dot] gov.

          Folks who live in the Old Town Neighborhood can also contact John McGehee who is a neighbor there. He has been very involved in the development of the plan and he also attended the Transportation Safety & Advisory Commission meeting on behalf of the neighborhood. He and others have also started a neighborhood association called Friends of Old Town (FOOT) that folks may be interested in. Contact me if you would like his contact information.

          Thanks.

          • Thanh, I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, but you address so many issues relating to the City of Harrisonburg on here, just what exactly does the city’s media relations/PIO do that you don’t?

          • Thanh says:

            Hi Dave. (I hope this comment appears in the right place, I couldn’t find a “reply” button immediately after your comment at 8:44pm.)

            It is often a fine line, gray area for me when I comment, address issues, or write posts on hburgnews. On one hand I am a citizen of the community who loves to share information and so I share information (for example, post on hburgnews) on my own time. On the other hand I can’t take off my “city staff” hat, so I feel sometimes that I must add that disclaimer or make note that folks are welcome to contact me on issues related to my work, which in this case with traffic calming its one of the programs I work with.

            With regards to the media relations/public information officer, I do not feel that it is their responsibility or even realistic to expect that they follow every blog post on the internet that might have something to do with the City of Harrisonburg and then also to respond to every question made on the internet in posts, stories or comments, etc. I hope that no one expects that I follow all online posts and comments made about transportation safety, bicycle and pedestrian matters, water quality, etc (the programs that I work with). It would be so overwhelming that I can’t imagine being able to get anything else done. :)

            I hope that if a person has a really important question, concern, suggestion, or comment that they require an answer or action from the city on, that they call the city directly whether it be a city department, the PIO, the city manager’s office, or a City Council member.

            As I understand the position, one of the duties of the City’s PIO is to assist departments in getting timely information out to the public, which is done through press releases sent to the media outlets. And speaking from my experience working with the PIO, she also does a lot of “behind the scenes” work on other projects which other departments “get credit” (so to speak) for. For example, the PIO has assisted in being a facilitator at the traffic calming meetings, and worked on developing good language and design for many education and outreach materials that come out of the Public Works Department.

          • That helps, Thanh…I love Miriam to death, and while hear from the City PD’s PIO almost daily in the media, Miriam’s often in the background, I guess.

  6. hhsparent says:

    I’m with Brooke on this. If the traffic calming plan comes to fruition, I think most residents in the area will be thrilled. It’s too bad it had to come to a formal plan requiring taxpayer dollars instead of people just respecting the laws and driving with care and consideration for a neighborhood. Downtown has sidewalks; not every street in the area impacted by these potential improvements do (Myers, Andergren, Preston) and there are plenty of speeders using these streets regularly. Many of us are regular visitors to downtown; many of us work there. We pay for plenty of things that aren’t specifically for us or our neighborhoods- but we pay because we want a better Harrisonburg.

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