Proposed traffic congestion solution tabled

The city of Clovis Public Works Committee tabled an idea Wednesday that would include a 6-inch curb in the middle of Prince Street, extending from 21st Street south to Commerce Way. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

A proposed solution to traffic congestion at the Prince and 21st streets intersection was tabled Wednesday at a public works committee meeting over concerns it could adversely affect area businesses.

Under a proposal by Public Works Director Harry Wang, a 6-inch curb would be erected in the middle of Prince Street, extending from 21st Street south to Commerce Way.

Additionally, the traffic signal at Commerce Way and Prince Street would be removed, and traffic would be restricted from turning left from Commerce Way onto Prince Street.

“It would solve some of the problems, as far as the accidents and the traffic congestion, however you have to weigh that against the overall impact on the businesses,” said City Manger Joe Thomas. “That’s one of the reasons we had the meeting, to see if we had possibly overlooked an alternative that would be a better solution.”

Wang estimates the short-term solution would cost about $10,000 to complete, with an additional $2,000 for design.

That is far less than the $4 million or so it would take to fully expand the intersection and solve the problem on a long-term basis, which could take several years to begin and require state money, officials said in the fall.

Either way, the traffic light at Commerce Way and Prince Street would have to go, Wang said.

One business owner believes the plan proposed would pose other public safety concerns and hurt business in the area.

“I don’t think Clovis as a community needs to look for a short-term fix for a problem that is going to be long term, as Clovis continues to grow,” said Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, who owns and operates Twin Cronnie on Commerce Way.

Harden said the proposed change would reroute commercial traffic into residential areas, thereby causing more danger to the public.

Wang agreed there could be a short-term swell of traffic on other streets in the area, but said many motorists are already driving into those residential areas to avoid the intersection entirely. In busy times, traffic can stack up a block and a half south of 21st Street, Wang said.

He also believes consumers will find new ways to get to restaurants and business in the area if the traffic light is removed and a curb erected. The intersection was designed for about 20,000 cars per day, Wang said, and today it carries nearly double that.

The Department of Transportation will be looking at the overall situation, Thomas said, and may be able to assist in the solution.