Downtown traffic

The Auburn City Council will meet soon for a work session to hear a presentation from consultants who conducted a wide-ranging traffic study for the city. 

The consulting firm Skipper Consulting will give a presentation on the traffic study at the work session, the date for which is being finalized but is expected to happen within the month. The session will be open to the public.

Work on the traffic study, which began in November 2017, looked at a wide array of elements affecting traffic in the city, including traffic patterns, lights, major intersections and bicycle and multi-use paths, among other considerations.

"It’s a comprehensive traffic study looking at the various areas where there’s congestion and to remedy that congestion," said City Manager Jim Buston. 

The study materials will include recommendations for improving traffic, like adding additional turn lanes at some intersections. 

It is basically a map or plan for the city's capital traffic projects for the coming years, added Buston. 

"We paid for this to have a plan we could work to resolve some of the traffic issues throughout the city," he said. "That’s the very fundamental reason for having the traffic study done — was to identify areas of concern, identify how to remedy those concerns, and then putting it in our capital projects to start working that plan."

Representatives from Skipper Consulting and city staff will give the presentation on the study's findings. 

"The study is huge, and they’ve got all kinds of drawings. It’s hundreds and hundreds of pages," said Buston.

The traffic study is the first citywide in more than a decade. Out of the city's 64 intersections with a traffic signal, 59 were evaluated, The Villager previously reported.

Identifying needs and having a plan could also help give the city an advantage in securing state and federal grant monies for projects. 

In conjunction with the study — which examined the city's intersections, corridors, driveway access points, accident history and many other components — the city will be upgrading its traffic signal equipment, which offers a number of benefits to city staff and Auburn drivers, as well as looking to install a smartphone app to assist travelers.

The new traffic signal equipment will allow the city to improve traffic flow by synchronizing signals along a corridor.

"We can go in and make changes, respond quicker," City Traffic Engineer Brandy Ezelle told The Villager last October, adding that, currently, the city only learns of a problem if an employee happens to drive by and notice, if it is detected in one of the city's biannual inspections or if someone reports a problem. "When this equipment is put in place, if a left-turn detection goes out, we're going to get a notification, and we're going to respond quickly, rather than it taking three months for somebody to finally call us."

The city will also work to install an emergency vehicle pre-emption system in all its fire trucks. This will allow the emergency vehicles to communicate with all traffic signals, so signals can change to make way for vehicles responding to calls.

As the city analyzes traffic, it is also working to tackle regulating short-term rentals. The Short-Term Rentals Task Force will meet multiple times in the coming weeks, with a work session planned for 4:30 p.m. on Monday in the City Meeting Room at 122-B Tichenor Ave. That session is open to the public, but public comment is prohibited.

The public will have the opportunity to give feedback at the second planned meeting on May 22, which will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Harris Center on Perry Street. 

The city has drawn in public comment for the draft Short-Term Rental ordinance during two online Citizen Feedback efforts, receiving more  than 300 public comments.

An updated draft of the proposed regulations for short-term rentals can be found at auburnalabama.org/short-term-rentals.

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