City engineer says construction of Starbucks could help harried bypass intersection

Published 9:08 am Thursday, September 28, 2017

“Who is going to fix that before it becomes a total train wreck?”

That pointed question came from Danville Mayor Mike Perros Monday night at a regular Danville City Commission meeting. Perros was asking about the intersection by the U.S. 150 Bypass in front of Kroger and Liquor Barn, where a Starbucks is being constructed.

The intersection is already one of the busiest in the city, and officials have been handling numerous complaints and comments from members of the public concerned that adding Starbucks will make the traffic flow in that area even worse. The Seattle-based global coffeehouse chain is slated to open in Danville next year.

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City Engineer Earl Coffey said the original owners — before the parcel was sold for Starbucks to be built — had also “raised the question about traffic around that intersection.”

Construction of Starbucks actually has the potential to improve traffic at the frontage road intersection just off of the bypass, because new curbs built as part of the project will better define the roadway, Coffey said.

The design of a curb outside O’Charley’s in Danville, successfully routes traffic coming off the bypass and helps traffic flow, according to City Engineer Earl Coffey.

“We treated that intersection in the same way that the intersection at O’Charley’s was treated,” he said, referencing how bypass traffic cannot access O’Charley’s parking lot without turning and traveling along the frontage road briefly first. “At the time O’Charley’s was built — or prior to that — you could exit the bypass down into the parking lot directly. There was less of the frontage road that existed then. 

“In the same way that the curbing improved that intersection dramatically and the function of that intersection, the work that Starbucks is doing will help that intersection.”

Coffey said he isn’t saying the intersection won’t be a problem, but that Starbucks’ construction could improve traffic flow from where it is right now.

“It will not make that intersection good. And the reason it won’t make that intersection good, necessarily, is because of the loading of the intersection,” Coffey said. “Just simply the volume of cars.”

Starbucks expects the “vast majority” of its customers will “already be in that development.”

“For example, folks going to the Liquor Barn, to Kroger, or just driving from Tractor Supply or the bank, exiting onto the bypass,” he said. “So they’re not necessarily looking at a demand where they’re pulling additional cars into that development. They are wanting to capture cars that are already off the bypass before they exit back onto the bypass.”

Coffey said in new development areas, roads off of big roads such as the bypass extend further back before they reach another road, allowing for more “storage” of cars in line and reducing problems. The intersection at the south end of the bypass where Cattleman’s Steakhouse is now open is a good example of this design, he said. But the intersection where Starbucks is not set up that way, so “it won’t be great” even if Starbucks’ curbs help.

“There’s not a lot we can do about that, given just the physical limitations of what’s there,” he said.

Coffey said the traffic pattern after curbing is installed will be “more pronounced.”

“There will be more storage there than existed before the construction, so the traffic pattern will be improved as a result of the construction,” he said.

“You got all that?” Perros asked Commissioner Kevin Caudill.

“I got all that,” Caudill said.

“Maybe you can tell me what he said after,” Perros said with a laugh.