Friday, August 19, 2022

Wilmington traffic safety improvements at Racine and College Acres will eliminate left turns

New traffic improvements at College Acres Drive and Racine Drive are planned to begin next week (Port City Daily/Courtesy City of Wilmington)

WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington is hoping to solve some safety concerns at the intersection of Racine Drive and College Acres Drive starting next week. Perhaps most significantly, drivers will no longer be permitted to turn left from both Racine and College Acres Drive respectively.

This project will prohibit the through movements from crossing and the left turn movements from turning off College Acres Drive onto Racine Drive.  College Acres Drive will be allowed to only make a right turn onto Racine Drive from both the eastbound and westbound directions. Left turns from Racine Drive onto College Acres Drive will be prohibited. [Vehicles on] Racine Drive would be allowed to proceed through and turn right on to College Acres Drive,” according to the city.

Over the years the city has seen plenty of crashes at the location but the city is hopeful the upgrades will curb incidents.

“This area of Wilmington along with UNCW has experienced phenomenal growth which has led to an increase in traffic and pedestrians using areas roads, sidewalks, and trails. This project is being done to help improve safety and mitigate traffic congestion at this intersection. There have been crashes at this intersection, and these changes will reduce the potential for crashes, particularly those involving pedestrians and cyclists,” according to the City of Wilmington.

New signage, pavement markings, and modular medians and posts will be installed at the intersection and in the future the city plans on installing a concrete median at the location.

According to the city, “Over time, Traffic Engineering has been gradually increasing/enhancing the traffic controls at this intersection. These improvements have included:

  • Installation of overhead flashers
  • Installation of oversized Stop signs
  • Stop ahead signage for College Acres Drive
  • Upgraded crosswalk markings
  • Post reflectors to increase nighttime Stop sign visibility
  • Installation of solar flashers above the Stop sign”

The changes are not without cause, over the past several years the city has recognized patterns in collision reports at the location.

These patterns include:

  • Turning traffic that did not yield to pedestrians or cyclists 
  • Motorists that did not stop for stop sign/ flashing red light
  • Motorist that mistook the intersection as an all-way stop
  • Failure to yield to on-coming traffic, thinking it was clear to proceed
  • Courtesy crashes where an opening in congestion was left and a driver proceeded or was waved thru, unable to see

The improvements that the city will be making was apparently the best option for the intersection with other alternatives being explored but eventually denied.

The implementations of a 4-way stop, traffic signal, and roundabout at the intersection were all suggested but all showed their own flaws.

  •  “4-way Stop Control.  Vehicular traffic on Racine Drive is too heavy for Stop sign control.  Queueing from potential stop signs on Racine would back up traffic both into UNCW and northward on Racine exacerbating already difficult management of traffic.
  • Traffic Signal.  The intersections of Racine at College Acres and Racine at Randall are too close together to be effectively coordinated with each other. 
  • Roundabout. There is an insufficient queueing area between the intersections.  As currently identified in the field, traffic queues through College Acres from Randall.  When traffic backs up into the circulating roadway of a roundabout, all movements through the intersection are impeded and unable to move.  This would result in traffic exiting UNCW not being able to get out leading to “gridlock”.

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