Discussions surrounding West Hull Drive traffic volume continued at Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council. At the request of the Parking and Safety Committee, which held a special meeting in January to bring attention to the issue, the discussion was brought before council due to concerns about where discussions — and potential actions — would lead for residents and their own requests in other high-volume traffics areas around the city.
Located on the south side of Delaware, West Hull Drive is often used by residents and visitors of Delaware as a shortcut between Liberty Road and U.S. Route 23. With the Delaware Community Plaza located just south of Hull Drive, the road is advantageous for travelers heading to the stores and restaurants that call the plaza home. Residents first came to the city in 2017 to ask for solutions.
During the January special meeting, City Engineer Bill Ferrigno presented the findings of a traffic study conducted in September 2018 to assess the traffic volume along West Hull Drive. The study showed an average daily traffic (ADT) count of 2,981 cars traveling along the street in a 24-hour span.
The study went on to suggest the vast majority of cars passing along West Hull Drive had traveled to or from the Delaware Community Plaza.
Various pilot studies were discussed that could deter drivers from turning left out of the plaza and onto Hull Drive, including changing the lawful entry and exiting of the access point by installing different signage or pavement striping.
A pilot study that would temporarily close off the exit point from the plaza onto Hull Drive, behind the Chipotle restaurant, had also been discussed, and the pilot was approved by the plaza owner. At Monday’s meeting, Ferrigno referred to such an initiative as an “active” traffic calming measure.
Ferrigno added the pilot study could have several potential drawbacks. He said the improvements coming to U.S. Route 23 in that area, such as reconfigured and new traffic signals, might negate any improvements the closed access point might create. He added there is always significant concerns when limiting access to any public road, and that traffic might just be redirected to other neighborhoods.
He went on to suggest delaying the pilot study that would close the exit until it is seen how the improvements along U.S. Route 23 impact traffic studies. In the meantime, Ferrigno advised looking into “passive” measures such as adding a traffic-calming island in the middle of the road, decreasing the width of lanes, and adding lines, all of which Ferrigno said would force drivers to slow down because the measures would “increase their perception of risk.”
However, the potential implementation of “passive” measures, which are meant to combat speed of traffic and not volume, created confusion on what the primary issue is for West Hull Drive residents, or if there even is an issue in need of remedying.
“One of the reasons why this is tough is because I don’t feel like we have a target of what the problem is that we’re trying to solve,” Councilwoman Lisa Keller said. “What I’m seeing is no significant crash history on Hull (Drive), and no significant speed issue. Just a lot of cars.”
Keller’s suggestion was not to move forward with any type of measure, saying, “I’m just not hearing of any solution that will actually make a difference in terms of the volume of cars, and I feel like we’re kind of just meandering around what are we actually trying to do here.”
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer voiced concerns on choosing not to do anything, saying that while the city might not be able to do everything residents ask for, “We always try to do something to mitigate the situation.”
Ferrigno asked for a three-month window to further research a passive guidance policy to be an extension of the city’s traffic calming policy. At the request of Shafer, Ferrigno said he could do so within two months, which the city will review in April.