Study indicates traffic light not needed at new sports complex

Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

An analysis of traffic on Fisher Ferry Road indicates a traffic light is not needed at the entrance to Sports Force Park on the Mississippi sports complex, according to a traffic study performed by the consulting engineer for the project.

The traffic study was performed by Neel-Schaffer Engineers at the request of county engineer Stantec, because while the sports complex is being built on city property, Fisher Ferry Road just past the bridge over Hatcher Bayou is a county road. Neel-Schaffer volunteered to perform the study.

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the study has been accepted and approved by Stantec.

“I’m excited about the outcome and I’m glad we were able to work it all out,” Flaggs said. “I commend Neel-Schaffer and Stantec for coming together with an agreement, so that’s a win for the taxpayer. That could have conceivably cost us another $1 million (or) $2 million to do that work. We always win when we discuss things and communicate.”

According to the report and analysis prepared by Neel-Schaffer, a traffic signal warrant analysis performed on the road “was performed using projected turning movement volumes at the proposed entrance to the new sports complex.”

The report used a traffic count on Fisher Ferry at the complex entrance that was performed June 18, and showed a peak morning traffic count of 501 vehicles traveling Fisher Ferry between 7 and 8 a.m. with 78 percent of the traffic moving north. The peak evening period was from 4 to 6 p.m., when 610 cars traveled the road with 65 percent moving south.

The traffic count was compared with three warrants, or conditions, necessary for a traffic signal outlined in the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices,” published by the federal government, which helps determine when a traffic signal is warranted by setting minimum standards that would indicate a signal may be warranted.

There are nine traffic warrants in the manual, but the study looked at traffic warrants based on traffic volume periods: eight hours, four hours and peak traffic hours. The three warrants use 14 one-hour traffic intervals, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m.

The general rule is if one of the warrants is satisfied, Neel-Schaffer traffic engineer Mark Sorrell said, “Then a traffic signal could be considered warranted. That in itself does not justify the installation of a traffic signal, but it’s the minimum criteria for installing a traffic signal.”

According to the report, the warrant analysis of the three situations did not “satisfy any of the three-vehicular volume based warrants.” The report indicated the traffic count on Fisher Ferry at the park’s entrance matched two of the 14 evaluated hours on the first warrant but none on the other two.

Sorrell said right turns were not considered in the analysis, because a right turn at a signal does not always impact the flow of traffic.

“Knowing where this is and where it is on this road, your major population center is north of there, the major interstate route is north of there, and for the purposes of projecting the traffic for a future condition there, I assumed that 80 percent of the traffic would be coming from the north, so really the demand for a northbound left (turn) would be somewhat low; traffic coming south would (need to turn left),” Sorrell said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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