As the city council approved plans for a Chick-fil-A, the burning question on the mind of Councilor Laura Reid was traffic.
“What will be done about lines and managing them?” Reid asked.
After the addition of an In-N-Out in December 2019, traffic around that site swells to the main roads on a regular basis and illegal U-turns to get in line are becoming a regular occurrence. With the addition of another fan-favorite restaurant merely blocks away, a building had to be removed from the original plans to accommodate more parking.
“We changed the site plan around and moved the building to the west side. That increases the queue length and allows us to have two drive-thru lanes around the entire building,” said Steve Schwartz, development manager for Chick-fil-A. Employees will deliver orders on foot to the outer drive-thru lane. Up to 28 vehicles will be able to queue up for drive-thru under the new plans, according to a traffic study funded by the applicant and performed by Kittleson & Associates.
A traffic light will be installed at the ingress and egress point to the jug handle on Ulali Drive Northeast and provide some management of the flow. Ulali Drive also funnels traffic exiting Keizer Station east on Chemawa Road North toward Interstate 5.
Plans for the site now include more than the amount of parking spaces required by the city. Given the size and type of the proposed business, 58 parking spaces are required under the Keizer development codes. Under the new plan, there will be 100 parking spaces.
Chick-fil-A is basing projected need for parking and traffic controls on data from its two Portland-area locations. On average, those locations queue roughly 23 vehicles during midway and Saturday peaks and 17 vehicles during weeknight rushes. Chick-fil-A does not operate on Sundays.
“We expect there to be a surge on opening weekend that will then normalize,” said Schwartz.
Many expected the same from In-N-Out, but Chick-fil-A traffic may be reduced by already having locations north of Keizer.
According to the Kittleson traffic study, the average number of trips will be reduced as a result of the new design and removal of the automotive lube building. An amendment to the jug handle master plan in August 2008 predicts a total of 409 trips per day. The estimate approved by the council on Feb. 1 suggests there will be only 391 trips per day. However, the original amendment in August only attributed 10 trips per day to the lube center.
“We will also bring in a grand opening team that will make sure it works efficiently,” Schwartz said.