Study aims to keep traffic flowing

KINGMAN - The traffic situation in Kingman is one of the biggest gripes for residents, but it might get a little better following a new traffic study by Southwest Traffic Engineering, Inc. late last year.

The company gave City Council a presentation of its latest findings Monday, emphasizing the changes to Diamond and Yavapai streets, and providing the latest data about speeds, traffic signals and stop signs on some of the most congested routes in town.

As a fix to Diamond Street, SWTE Engineer John Willet told Council that besides making Diamond and Yavapai one-way streets, which the city is already planning, a free-flow right turn sign will go in at the end of Diamond, where it meets Kenwood Avenue.

The traffic during peak commuting hours sometimes backs up from the stop sign at Diamond back to the right-turn lane on Airway.

Also, the stop sign at the southwest corner of Diamond and Kenwood will be moved down to Yavapai.

A traffic signal won't be put in at Airway and Diamond.

Although 90 percent of commuters on Diamond are turning left onto Airway, based on a national model calculating the number of vehicles passing through an intersection, the amount does not warrant the more costly traffic signal, according to the study findings.

"Basically, we need more traffic on Airway going east to west to justify a traffic signal," Willet said.

According to the data collected, a week after the closure of Louise Avenue and the opening of the Airway Underpass, Airway Avenue saw approximately 2,500 more vehicles per day than it did four months earlier, according to the study.

Willet said that 4,930 vehicles traveled west and 4,440 went east each day in June of 2006.

Four months later in October, just after the Louise closure and Underpass opening, westbound traffic surged to 6,400 and eastbound to 6,030.

Lastly for this area, based on SWTE findings, Willet recommended removing stop signs at Eastern and Kenwood avenues and reconstructing that intersection for a smoother curve.

Residents in the area may not see things revert back to pre-underpass days, but a significant downturn in the number of cars in the area is expected once streets switch to one-way.

Hualapai speeders

Another aspect of the study and presentation Monday was the speed zones on Hualapai Mountain Road. By clocking drivers east- and westbound, SWTE discovered that the signage for the stretch of Hualapai Mountain Road from Andy Devine Avenue to the city's limits ought to be reversed. Currently, drivers going east onto the five-lane section of Hualapai from its intersection with Andy Devine are going slower, on average, than the 45-mph signage permits.

At the railroad bridge, just past the intersection, the average speed clocked by SWTE was 38 mph. Closer to city limits, however, where the street narrows to two lanes and the signs limit drivers to 40 mph, drivers are routinely exceeding that limit.

At the city limits, where 40 miles an hour is the posted speed limit, the average was 46.1 mph northbound and 44.6 mph southbound, with a few drivers being clocked at speeds approaching 70 miles an hour, Willet said.

The simple solution would be to just switch the speed zones. And that is exactly what is planned.

D-rated intersection

Also discussed was the D rating of the intersection of Andy Devine Avenue and Hualapai Mountain Road. While it's considered a passing grade, Willet said the ratings are based on traffic studies conducted mostly back East. He said the 38-second average wait per vehicle in the morning and 36-second wait in the evening peak hours was not as terrible as the rating made it seem. He said no significant changes to the signal's timing were necessary.

"The intersection works well, is what we're saying," Willet said.

It's a good thing the city doesn't have a photo radar at this intersection, though, because if tickets were issued for every driver who turned right from Andy Devine onto Hualapai during a red light, the city's financial problems might be solved. Much to everybody's surprise, there is a "no turn on red" sign for those approaching from the south and turning right onto Hualapai. Even a City Council member admitted that he's never even seen the sign.

The fact that nobody pays attention to the sign may be a blessing, actually. SWTE plans to replace the sign with an electric one that blinks, but unlike the current sign, it won't prohibit right turns 100 percent of the time, which currently impedes traffic flows, SWTE found. The illuminated sign will match the flow of westbound traffic from Hualapai Mountain Road to Stockton Hill Road, allowing commuters to turn right for all Andy Devine traffic, at the driver's discretion, of course.