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Elkins officials explain reason for decision

ELKINS — The following is a Friday afternoon press release from Elkins City Hall in its entirety:

“The decision to prohibit parallel parking along Railroad Avenue in Elkins was triggered by concerns about increasing traffic volumes and was necessary to comply with federal traffic safety standards, city officials explained today.

“The change, which eliminated parallel parking in front of the offices of the Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Senior Center, and the American Legion, among other Railroad Avenue buildings, was approved at an October meeting of council’s Municipal Properties Committee. The decision to make this change was supported by the city’s operations manager, police chief, and fire chief.

A representative of the American Legion was also in attendance at the October meeting.

“Increasing traffic on Railroad Avenue led officials to reevaluate parking rules there.

“One of the main issues creating the need for this change is the ever-increasing volume of traffic on Railroad Avenue,” says Elkins Operations Manager Bob Pingley.

“Time was that Railroad Avenue was a quiet little side street. Now it’s really the gateway to downtown. It gets more traffic on a daily basis than even Davis Avenue.

“As the number of motor vehicles traveling Railroad Avenue has grown, so have the risks to drivers and pedestrians alike.

“The busier a street is, the less safe it is for people to be getting in and out of cars parked along that street,” says Pingley. “Other issues include lines of sight for drivers making turns onto Railroad Avenue, such as from Fourth Street. Blind spots from parked cars combined with high traffic volume is really a recipe for disaster.”

“In making determinations about traffic and parking safety, the city must do its best to conform with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a publication of the Federal Highway Administration.

“The MUTCD lays out standards about stoplights, signs, sight triangles at intersections, road widths, and safe parking,” says Pingley. “Elkins is a 100-year-old city, so we’re probably never going to be perfectly compliant with standards like these throughout the whole downtown. But wherever possible, and especially as we make improvements like the work that’s been done on and along Railroad Avenue recently, we absolutely have to make every effort to get as close as we can to these accepted standards.’

“The change eliminated no designated handicapped parking spots.

“There wasn’t any handicapped parking affected by this decision,’ says Pingley. “There is still handicapped parking on Fourth Street, just down the block from the American Legion. There is also free, unlimited parking available in the lot behind city hall.

Pingley says he recognizes the change is not welcome in all quarters but wants the city’s residents, business owners, and visitors to understand that it was made with safety in mind.

“When there is an official set of published traffic safety standards, we simply cannot ignore them,” says Pingley. “Those standards are issued by traffic engineers and other experts in keeping pedestrians and drivers as safe as possible. Taking away parking that people have come to depend on is never going to be the most popular decision, but I’m confident it is the safest decision in this case.”

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