Residents request traffic devices

By Bob Robinson

Star Staff

   Residents of Mill Street have petitioned the City of Elizabethton to install "traffic calming devices" in their neighborhood to combat speeding motorists.
   Elizabethton City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP) at 7 p.m. today in Council Chambers at City Hall.
   NTMP, in part, uses traffic calming devices to combat speeding motorists in residential neighborhoods.
   The devices include roundabouts, speed bumps, rumble strips, commercial vehicle restrictions, textured pavement and raised crosswalks.
   If adopted on Thursday, the NTMP ordinance takes affect Jan. 20. On Jan. 21, the City Planning and Development Office will begin the review of the NTMP Project Application of Mill Street residents.
   NTMP requires:
   * Traffic calming devices to be installed on existing local streets serving predominantly single family residential neighborhoods;
   * Identification of high volume traffic areas;
   * Petition by at least 67 percent of residents of the neighborhood;
   * Council funding through the budget process;
   * Final plans and programs to be reviewed and approved by City Council before implementation;
   * Ongoing landscaping maintenance and any necessary right-of-way or easement dedication to be paid by the property owners in the neighborhood;
   * Traffic volumes to either exceed 100 vehicles per hour or 1,000 vehicles per day;
   * Cut through traffic, for example, Mill Street from West Elk Avenue to Lynn Avenue (old Bristol Highway), to generally represent 25 percent or more of the total daily street volume;
   * More than 15 percent of the motorists to be speeding in excess of 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit;
   * Three or more accidents, involving vehicles, pedestrians or bicycles, are reported over 12 consecutive months; and,
   * More than 3,000 vehicles, on an average day, to cross intersections.
   NTMP specifies emergency vehicle access within and through neighborhoods will be carefully considered in the evaluation of traffic management requests.
   Newly-installed traffic calming devices will be monitored and evaluated the first 60 to 90 days to ascertain if they meet desired objectives.
   If objectives are not met, residents of the neighborhood "may also be required to pay to remove or alter the project."
   On July 17, 2001, the Elizabethton Planning Commission approved NTMP and referred it to City Council.
   NTMP was developed in response to citizen requests, according to Mayor Sam LaPorte.
   "City Council and I have become increasingly concerned about the number of complaints we have received about speeding motorists in residential areas, as well as people running redlights and stop signs. All of these actions are quite dangerous and result in risks to our citizens that need to be addressed.
   "The Elizabethton Police Department cannot be everywhere. I feel that enactment of the NTMP is a good start toward assisting residents of Elizabethton, while freeing up police officers to focus on other areas of need in the city," Mayor LaPorte said.