City Putting The Brakes On Bruce

Partial Closure Of Roadway Seeks To Fix Traffic Concerns

Posted: August 26, 2014

Harrisonburg will limit access to East Bruce Street in Old Town as part of a traffic-calming initiative. (Photo by Bryan Gilkerson / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — Lori Remmel Reich is looking forward to the Harrisonburg Public Works Department’s new traffic experiment on one of the city’s streets.

Living at the intersection of East Bruce and Ott streets in the Old Town neighborhood, Reich has seen too many speeding drivers, ignored stop signs and collisions, she said.

“I just don’t think it’s acceptable,” she said Monday, watching as another vehicle seemingly breached the 25 mph speed limit as it approached the stop sign at the corner of her property.

Having seen at least three crashes at the intersection and with neighbors building fences in order to keep their children from running in front of speeding vehicles, Reich hopes the newest city plan will fix the problem.

Starting Wednesday, a trial half-street closure will begin at the Ott and Bruce intersection.

Plastic barricades will be installed in order to prevent vehicles from accessing East Bruce from Ott Street, according to a city announcement.

Those traveling either direction on East Bruce will need to turn either left or right upon reaching Ott Street.

The project is part of the traffic-calming plan for Old Town, adopted by City Council in 2011 after residents complained of speeding vehicles that sought to use the narrow streets to avoid main roads.

The traffic-calming plan started to come together following a June 2010 collision at the intersection of Ott and Franklin streets that seriously injured a city woman.

Brad Reed, city transportation planner, said that much of the through traffic on Bruce is coming from the downtown area in an attempt to avoid main roadways like East Market Street and Martin Luther King, Jr Way.

Previous traffic-calming projects in the area include raising the intersection of Franklin and Ott streets and the placement of a speed hump on Bruce Street. 

While those actions have helped, the amount of traffic on Bruce remains high, according to Reed.

While the half-street closure is installed, city officials will collect data to see what impact the project has on traffic.

Reich, who has posted a sign reading “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here” in her yard, thinks the project will make a difference.

“Hopefully, it’ll be inconvenient enough that people will no longer cut through,” she said.

While the trial closure begins Wednesday, Reed could not give a timeframe for how long the study would last, saying it would continue “until the impact on traffic patterns have been fully evaluated.”

For questions or more information, call public works at 434-5928.

Contact Bryan Gilkerson at 574-6267 or bgilkerson@dnronline.com



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