The town of Wendell, along with the entire Triangle is experiencing major growth that shows no signs of stopping. Wendell Falls Pkwy is a road that was constructed to help facilitate that growth.
When the Wendell Falls development got off the ground, Wendell Falls Pkwy was constructed as a four-lane divided facility with a sidewalk and multi-use trail from I-87 to Martin Pond Rd from that point it reduces to a two-lane rural section to it’s tie-in with the existing Poole Rd and continues to it’s terminus in Downtown Wendell. The current speed limit is 45 MPH until entering Downtown Wendell where it reduces to 35 MPH.
Through Wendell Falls, Wendell Falls Pkwy has several intersections. The current state of those intersections is as follows
Wendell Valley Blvd: Unsignalized with no pedestrian accommodations. Soon to become a signal with coming development.
Taylor Rd: Current Condition: Signal with crosswalks. Note: Picture below is from before signal installation. This is the current only safe crossing option within Wendell Falls. The type of signal detection does not allow for golf cart crossing.
Douglas Falls Dr: Unsignalized two-way stop with no pedestrian accommodations.
Daniel Ridge Rd: Unsignalized two-way stop with no pedestrian accommodations. Turning left off of Daniel Ridge Road is currently very dangerous, especially in the peak periods. This is due to sight distance limitations and high levels of vehicles on Wendell Falls Pkwy. Vehicles are constantly seen waiting precariously in the median. Due to it’s location in the center of the neighborhood near the amenities, residents of Wendell Falls frequently have to run across all five lanes of traffic with little room to spare due to the aforementioned sight distance limitations.
Perhaps the biggest safety issue here, in addition to the high volume of pedestrian crossing is the sight distance. The photos below were taken from the stop bar Northeast bound and the assumed location of where a stop bar should be Southwest bound.
It is nearly impossible to see without either scooting up into the intersection or taking a chance and darting to the median. There have been many close calls here, vehicle wise and on foot.
Mill Station Dr: Unsignalized two-way stop with no pedestrian accommodations.
Martin Pond Rd: Signal with no pedestrian accommodations.
Alternative 1: (Preferred Alternative) – Signal at Daniel Ridge Rd, Signal Detection modification at Taylor Rd, R-Cut at Douglas Falls Dr, R-Cut at Mill Station Ln, Crosswalks at Martin Pond Rd.
Alternative 2: (If signal is deemed impossible) – Signal Detection modification at Taylor Rd, Midblock Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon on Wendell Falls Pkwy, Crosswalks at Martin Pond Rd.
Other Needed Improvement: Signal or Roundabout at the intersection of Wendell Falls Pkwy and Eagle Rock Rd.
Taylor Road signal detection: Currently, the only safe crossing for golf carts within the community is at Taylor Road. Unfortunately, the loop detection that is in place does not recognize golf cars. The detection should be swapped out for Radar, Pucks or a more sensitive loop detection.
To make Wendell Falls Parkway safer, R-Cuts should be considered at Douglas Falls Dr and Mill Station Ln. R-Cuts reduce potential conflict points. With the addition of the signal at Daniel Ridge, these R-Cuts would be seen as a good compromise. Douglas Falls left-turning vehicles could detour to the Taylor Rd or Daniel Ridge signal. Mill Station left-turning vehicles could detour to Chestnut Falls Rd or the Daniel Ridge signal.
With the pending developments on the corner of Wendell Falls Pkwy and Martin Pond Rd, crosswalks should be added to this intersection.
The improvements are necessary to ensure the safety of all users in the area. It is also imperative to stay within the mission of Wendell Falls being a walkable slice of urbanity. Two crossings within a mile with over 1400 houses and numerous commercial developments is unacceptable and does not accomplish the goal of being a walkable neighborhood.
Alternative two would still see the Taylor Rd Signal Detection and Martin Pond Rd Crosswalk improvements. If the signal were to be deemed unnecessary, a mid-block pedestrian hybrid beacon would be a possible solution.
This solution would provide better connectivity between the two sides of Wendell Falls. While a signal is greatly preferred to ensure safety, the mid-block crossing would at least bring us toward the goal of being one cohesive neighborhood.
Other Needed Wendell Falls Pkwy Improvements
Wendell Falls Pkwy is slated to be widening toward Downtown Wendell but it is still a ways off. The typical section would match the Wendell Falls portion with two lanes in each direction with a multi-use path on the Northern side.
There are a number of other projects slated for the Town of Wendell to ensure the extreme growth is able to be dealt with.
Currently there is one intersection – Wendell Falls Pkwy at Eagle Rock Rd – that sees significant queues in the Afternoon Peak Period. Recently, it was upgraded from a four-way stop to a basic signal with no turn lanes. Since there is a high volume and vehicles needing to turn left that have to wait causing the intersection to break down.
There is also a proposed development at this intersection which is the cause for much debate. The concerns include traffic but there are a couple of easy, inexpensive fixes to this intersection.
Quick fix 1: Turn lane improvements.
This option would add left and right turn lanes along Wendell Falls Pkwy along with an upgraded signal featuring protected-permissive left turn phases. It would also add a left turn lane to Eagle Rock Rd with a protected-permissive left turn phase. Along with the use of dynamic and adaptive signal timing, the queues along Wendell Falls Pkwy would likely disappear, even with development.
Quick Fix 2: Roundabout
This option would keep the flow moving in all directions with the addition of a Roundabout.
While these would only be temporary fixes until the road is fully widened, implementing either of these would provide great benefits to the quality of life within the Town of Wendell.