Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Farrell St. Residents Seek Traffic Fix

Burlington Free Press
by Sarah Buscher
May 14, 2008

SOUTH BURLINGTON -- Residents from the city's Eastwoods and Farrell Street neighborhoods lobbied the City Council this month to consider adding a three-way stop to the intersection where Eastwood Drive meets Farrell Street.

The Farrell Street extension was built as part of the high-density residential development comprising Eastwood Commons, O'Dell Apartments and the Grand Way Commons senior living community. Thousands of cars travel from Swift Street to Shelburne Road via the connector daily, and residents worry that the intersection where Eastwood Drive meets Farrell Street with a single stop sign is becoming dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

Farrell Street originally ran from Hadley Road in the city's Eastwoods neighborhood through to Swift Street. Later, the southern portion of the street from Hadley Road to Joy Drive was posted as one-way, to accommodate traffic traveling out of the Eastwoods neighborhood, while keeping through-traffic from traveling residential streets to access Shelburne Road.

The new Farrell Street extension curves past Eastwood Drive (the portion connecting to Joy Drive and formerly known as Farrell Street), allowing traffic to flow freely from Swift Street to Shelburne Road.

"We've wanted something done at that intersection since the new road was built," said Paul Engels, a 20-year resident of the Eastwoods neighborhood. "We thought it was unsafe from the start."

The problem is not the speed of the cars on the street, but the volume of traffic.

During a two-day study conducted by the city last week, 3,050 cars traveled Farrell Street, and 2,554 of those drivers kept to the posted 25 mph speed limit, averaging 22 mph.

Engels says it's difficult to pull out from Eastwood Drive onto Farrell Street with the steady stream of cars passing in either direction. He also notes the city's recreation path funnels cyclists and pedestrians into a crosswalk nearby.

City data show that five accidents occurred in the area of the new intersection since 2004. City manager Chuck Hafter said that while at least one of the incidents was a confirmed vehicle accident, the data do not describe the nature of the other accidents, which might have happened in surrounding parking areas, and not necessarily at the intersection. No pedestrian accidents have occurred in the area, according to the data; and together, the number of incidents would not warrant a three-way stop at the intersection.

Hafter said he believes the volume of traffic traveling through the area is of concern, however, and would appear to justify a three-way stop.

It's not just a matter of sticking two more signs in the ground, Hafter said. The Metropolitan Planning Organization is looking into the issue and will return to the council with recommendations, likely in June.

Hafter said since the Farrell Street development was built, the city has become more aware of the needs of cyclists and pedestrians.

Engels said he is encouraged that a three-way intersection could become a reality.

Contact Sara Buscher at 651-4811 or


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