Traffic changes canceled

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, December 2, 2010

Planned improvements to allow better access to the new Visitor Center have been scrapped in favor of signs directing drivers to the quickest way into the building’s parking lot.

The city announced in June it would install a median break on Constance Road to allow drivers arriving from points east to turn left into the parking lot at the renovated building. The city celebrated the building’s grand opening last month.

However, analysis of traffic studies and computer simulations of how the traffic would flow revealed that was not the best option, Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said.

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Instead, the city simply installed a sign near the left-turn light from Constance to North Main Street that directs drivers to make a U-turn there to reach the Visitor Center entrance.

“In doing our investigation and dealing with drivers who are getting there, a lot of people didn’t know you could do a U-turn there,” Nielsen said. “That’s what we’re recommending now. It’s something that we’re going to keep monitoring.”

Nielsen said he believes the intersection is large enough to allow U-turns. The intersection has long been the busiest in the city.

“That intersection, as you probably know, remains one of the most complex and congested intersections we have in our city,” Nielsen said. “It’s good that it’s congested, because there’s a lot of people there, a lot of activity.”

The signs have been in place for a little more than a week, Nielsen said. He has not received any complaints so far.

“We’ll continue to monitor it for any adjustments,” he said.

Another entrance to the lot is located on North Main Street shortly before northbound drivers arrive at the intersection.

The Visitor Center, a renovated courthouse, features a lounge, gift shop and information center for residents and guests. The second floor serves as the offices of the Tourism and Economic Development departments.

The parking lot behind it is shared with the Riddick’s Folly House Museum and also serves as overflow parking for the Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center.