Tyler city leaders attempt to address traffic woes - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Tyler city leaders attempt to address traffic woes

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(Tyler Morning Telegraph) - Getting from one place to another in Tyler on time and safely is very important to residents, results from a citizen survey show.

Community and city leaders gathered Tuesday at a Tyler 1st Steering Committee meeting on transportation and circulation issues to decide how to best make that goal a reality.

"About 97 percent of residents say traffic congestion is somewhat important or very important, 87 percent say the same about walking and biking trails and 67 percent say alternative forms of transportation, such as buses, are somewhat or very important," City Planner Heather Nick said to the group.

The citizen survey was conducted in July by mail, phone and online, and the goal was to obtain 400 completed surveys, she said. About 427 surveys were completed and the level of confidence is 95 percent with a plus or minus margin of error of 4.7 percent, Ms. Nick said.

Other city leaders talked about transportation issues and gave sobering numbers about the intersection of Loop 323 and South Broadway Avenue, which is the busiest in the city. City Traffic Engineer Peter Eng said that traffic at that intersection had increased by almost 73 percent since 1975, using numbers obtained in 2010. In 1975, slightly more than 38,000 vehicles passed through that intersection on a daily basis. By 2010, 67,500 vehicles came through daily.

Some progress has been made in lowering the number of traffic accidents in the city. There has been a downward trend in the number of auto accidents, Eng said, with up to 4,500 per year from 2000 to 2005. In 2012, those numbers fell to 3,000 a year, which Eng attributed to better public education, wider roadways and the medians installed on Loop 323.

"The biggest increase we have seen is in auto-pedestrian accidents and auto-motorcycle accidents," Eng said.

The gathering of about 35 steering committee attendees broke into groups to decide how to best accomplish the goal of getting Tylerites moving. At one table, where City Manager Mark McDaniel and several other committee members sat, discussion centered around the use of adaptive signals around Loop 323 to control traffic at certain times of the day, the use of the yellow flashing arrows to signal traffic to yield to oncoming cars and multiple driveway entrances to the same shopping complex.

"I'm in favor of fewer driveways (into shopping areas)," Human Resources Director ReNissa Wade said. She said she avoids the right-hand lane of Broadway whenever possible because cars turning into the multiple driveways can impede traffic flow on that road.

But Ed Thompson, steering committee member, said fewer driveways are bad for bringing more development into the community. "Everyone wants their own driveway — businesses want to be able to bring their customers to their front door," said.

Thompson also suggested the need for more frontage roads in the city. "There are less accidents and more flow if get people off of the main roads," he said.

McDaniel said it is a matter of balancing access with through traffic.

Ms. Wade said she thought the city's adaptive-use traffic signals at Loop 323 and Broadway were helpful in keeping traffic flowing. Thompson said he thought police officers, who are frequently stationed at South Broadway Avenue and Loop 323, also helped with traffic control and red light runners.

And the flashing yellow arrows instructing drivers to yield to oncoming traffic have been installed at 49 intersections. "Now that people are used to it, I think it works better," Thompson said.

The Tyler 1st Comprehensive Plan, formerly known as Tyler 21, was launched in 2007. The plan addresses issues such as downtown revitalization, historic preservation, parks and recreation, transportation and housing and neighborhoods.

The comprehensive plan is reviewed every five years and completely updated every 20 years. The steering committee had kickoff meeting in January and is working on taking the city's citizen survey results before city council.

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