For pedestrians, one of the most dangerous and difficult-to-traverse intersections in all of East Stroudsburg is the 5-way intersection right in the heart of downtown. The convergence of Washington Street, S. Courtland Street, and Day Street also produces inefficient traffic flow and limits parking for local businesses.
Folks walking through this area know the problems well. Two of the crosswalks at this intersection are 45 feet long. It takes a long time to cross from one side of the street to the other (13 seconds for the average person, even longer if someone has a mobility impairment). That's a long time to be exposed to oncoming vehicles, even if they were coming from only one direction. But at this intersection pedestrians are forced to watch for oncoming traffic from several different directions at once. The combination of long crossings, and traffic approaching from multiple directions makes this intersection especially dangerous for walkers.
That's not what you want at the main entrance to Dansbury Park, the Borough's primary recreation area. Children from all over town visit this park daily, especially when the pool is open. And most of them traverse this intersection to get to the park. The safety of those children should be a high priority.
Fortunately there is way of improving this intersection that will not only dramatically increase pedestrian safety, it will also improve traffic flow, and significantly help the local businesses in this area.
This intersection was practically made for a roundabout.
Although roundabouts tend to be controversial at first, consider the advantages that a roundabout would bring to this particular intersection.
From the driver's point of view:
Currently this intersection is confusing, especially for people who have not encountered it before. And given the large number of tourists visiting the area, that is a lot. Northbound traffic goes from 2 lanes down to 1, often causing problems as people figure out which lane they need to be in. Southbound traffic is forced to jog right, and then left, all while watching for northbound traffic turning into their path. Traffic from Day St. is forced to turn south, even if they want to go north. While doing so they have to watch for other cars coming from three different directions. Once they do make the turn, these folks will often cut through the bank parking lot to get to the northbound lanes. But even if they follow proper roads to get to the northbound lanes, they are forced to enter this same intersection again, which only increases the traffic volume. And no matter which direction you are coming from, you must wait for the light, even when there is no other traffic using the intersection. All-in-all: a highly inefficient design.
A roundabout fixes all of these problems. All northbound traffic merges into a single lane, eliminating lane-confusion. Southbound traffic follows a natural turn to the right and must watch for traffic coming from only one direction. Vehicles from Day St. (Dansbury Park) see the biggest improvement. Not only is traffic coming from only one direction, they are now able to head north in one easy movement. And traffic from all directions keeps moving. No more waiting for the red light.
From the pedestrian's point of view:
As mentioned earlier, the current pedestrian crossings are long. Someone crossing the street must watch for vehicles coming from several different directions. The roundabout design above includes pedestrian islands, places of safety where walkers can take their time watching for oncoming vehicles. The 2 longest crossings drop from 45 feet to 10 feet. This cuts the single-crossing time from 13 seconds down to less than 3 seconds. That's a huge improvement. The design also allows people to cross directly from Rudy's to ESSA Bank. Currently pedestrians should go all the way around the intersection and approach from the other side.
From the business-owner's point of view:
The lack of on-street parking in this area, by itself, limits the number of customers willing to visit business near this intersection. Add to that the fact that many pedestrians avoid the area because the crossings are so dangerous, it greatly reduces the potential business opportunities here. The above roundabout design solves both of these problems.
- It adds at least 20 new on-street parking spaces, possibly more.
- It widens the sidewalks and shortens the crosswalks making the area much more welcoming to foot-traffic.
- The garden in the center of the roundabout creates a pleasing view.
- Outdoor seating at Rudy's. (Need I say more.)
From the Government's point of view:
After a short period as drivers get used to them, roundabout-intersections have fewer accidents overall, and they see a dramatic drop in the number of t-bone and head-on collisions, which are especially dangerous. Plus the ongoing cost of electricity needed to power the traffic signal is eliminated. Snow removal is easier, and the lack of red lights improves emergency-response times.
The benefits of improving this intersection are great. Let's get the political willpower to make it happen.