Receiving Federal Stimulus dollars to fix local problems is great — except if you happen to live around the construction site during construction — which is what the residents on Carthage Street have been dealing with for a couple of months now and they’re understandably frustrated with the disruption to their neighborhood. Last night (Monday, August 2) a couple of City Council members, along with City staff and I met with a room full of Carthage Street residents to get a first hand account of what the construction traffic was doing to life on their street and we discussed a range of ideas to help mitigate the most troubling safety issues.
When you’re dealing with a project as big as the Crain Avenue/Fairchild Avenue Bridge replacement that has so much traffic trying to squeeze it’s way north, south and east and west — traffic troubles are going to rear their ugly head. Most of us can avoid the area and we do our best to accept the extra 5 to 10 minute traffic delay that occurs as we plow our way through the construction but imagine if you lived in the midst of all this construction activity and didn’t really have a choice but to cope with the impacts 24-7. That’s the reality of residents on Carthage.
I think everyone in the meeting understood that in the long run the new bridge and realigned roads will have a positive impact on their neighborhood but right now that’s not helping much. The trouble is there’s just not many ways to get from SR 43 to Fairchild Avenue and points west, and commuters being an industrious bunch are always looking for the shortest distance between two points which is how some of them have found themselves on Carthage Street.
Carthage is not the detour route but impatient drivers in search of a shortcut have tried to make it a detour route. Carthage was purposely not selected as a detour route because as a small residential street it’s not set up to handle large traffic volumes so the irony is that those folks that think they’ve found a shortcut quickly discover that it’s not that short nor does it cut time off their commute. All it does is back up cars on an otherwise nice and quiet residential street and generally make life miserable for the families that live on Carthage.
The goal of the meeting was to better understand the dynamics of what was happening on Carthage. We had police representatives there, engineering staff there, and public service staff in attendance to listen and explain what might or might not work. The staff walked away with a to do list that is hopefully going to yield some relief for the residents’ stress and in turn I think the residents better understand how much longer they will likely have to endure the traffic congestion.
If there’s any good news its that the engineers anticipate the current road closures to be lifted by November which should restore some more normal traffic patterns. In the meantime the staff will be looking at measures that discourage cut-thru traffic on Carthage.
On behalf of all the residents that call Carthage Street home, be a good neighbor, and keep their street safe by sticking to the detour route.