Town weighs options on Cherry Street changes

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

Town officials will meet with local merchants and gather more information before determining what to do about the flow of traffic on one of Black Mountain’s busiest streets.

Planning director Jessica Trotman provided aldermen provided aldermen with an update on a traffic study currently under way that will help the town decide whether or not to change Cherry Street to a one-way road. 

The town hired J.M. Teague Engineering and Planning of Waynesville in mid-May to conduct a study of traffic patterns along Cherry Street after most of the merchants along the road in the center of the town's central business district made the request to have it turned into a one-way street. That study is not yet complete, Trotman said. 

Traveling north on Cherry Street could be the only option for drivers in the future as town officials weigh their options on what to do with the busy road.

The width of the road supports one-way travel with angled parking along one side, she said. 

"Fire code requires 14 feet for the travel lane on a one-way road," Trotman told the board. "If we go one-way we'll have angled parking on one side, and those spaces will come out at a 45-degree angle. The spaces have to be nine feet wide and 18 feet long."

That angle would allow "about 16 feet of space" for a travel lane, she said, and "about 19 feet to the curb."

"I don't think it would be tight at all," Trotman said. "I thought we'd be closer to the fire code standard but we have more room."

One challenge to the potential change cited by Trotman is finding space suitable to create a loading zone for truck deliveries. 

"We plan to meet with store owners to discuss when their deliveries come, how often they come and if they have any influence on scheduling them," she said. 

Trotman is trying to avoid putting an unloading zone in the travel lane, she told aldermen. 

"I realize that happens all over town and might happen anyway, but if I can avoid it, I'd like to," she said. 

One potential solution could involve designating several spaces as a loading zone for 18 wheeler trucks on a particular time and day every week. 

"This is really dependent on what the store owners tell us about what time their deliveries come," she said. "But there are already two spots where box trucks can unload, on Cherry Lane and the parking lot (accessible from Cherry Street and Broadway Avenue)."

Alderman Larry Harris asked Trotman if she had studied any comparable streets in similar towns. 

"Unfortunately what you usually see in situations like that is a more informal method," she said. "You'll see restaurant owners who know they have a delivery coming at a certain time and they'll put out cones to block off a few spaces. That's pretty common in this part of the state but I'd to make it a little more structured than that."

Harris asked Black Mountain police chief Shawn Freeman if he anticipated additional traffic problems on State Street if Cherry Street were to become open to only northbound traffic. 

"I think it would be an easier flow," Freeman said. "Coming up the hill and flowing into that right-hand turn (onto State Street) would flow easier than expected."

According to Trotman's calculations, changing Cherry Street to a one-way road and adding angled parking would add to the existing spaces downtown. 

"We'd definitely gain a pretty good number of parking spaces," she said. "It would allow us to exceed the (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements for handicap spaces by two, and one for van access."

Changing the direction of traffic on Cherry Street would require a vote by the board of aldermen. The matter will be placed on the agenda for the regular meeting on Aug. 13.