City Council to consider 'Traffic Calming Devices'

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   Elizabethton City Council will consider a Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP) designed, in part, to combat speeding motorists in residential neighborhoods at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at City Hall.
   NTMP was developed in response to citizen requests for speed control devices, similar to those now used in Johnson City neighborhoods, according to Charles Stahl, city manager.
   "After years of study, the Elizabethton Planning Commission prepared the draft to address citizen concerns throughout the city. Those same residents also know city police can't be everywhere to stop speeding motorists," Stahl said.
   On July 17, 2001, Elizabethton Planning Commission approved NTMP and referred it to City Council for further consideration, according to David Ornduff, director of planning and development.
   Some major components of NTMP:
   * It applies to existing local streets serving predominantly single family residential neighborhoods;
   * It requires identification of high volume traffic areas;
   * It requires petition of neighborhood residents;
   * It is subject to council funding through the budget process; and,
   * All final plans and programs shall be reviewed and approved by City Council before implementation.
   The plan notes that emergency vehicle access within and through neighborhoods will be carefully considered in the evaluation of traffic management requests.
   "It is recognized that certain traffic management techniques may result in increased emergency response times to certain streets and neighborhoods."
   For NTMP to be considered for a particular street:
   * Traffic volumes should 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 (Bristol Highway), should generally represent 25 percent or more of the total daily street volume.
   * More than 15 percent of the motorists are 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.
   * More than 3,000 vehicles, on an average day, cross intersections.
   Traffic calming devices include roundabouts, speed bumps, rumble strips, commercial vehicle restrictions, textured pavement and raised crosswalks. They are not typically used on streets if the grade exceeds eight percent or is the primary route of emergency vehicles and school buses.
   To initiate the NTMP in a particular neighborhood, "67 percent or more" of the property owners in the affected area must petition the City Planning Department.
   The next step in the NTMP process requires city staff to design and construct the project within budgetary constraints. "All final plans and programs shall be reviewed and approved by City Council before implementation.
   "Ongoing landscaping maintenance and any necessary right-of-way or easement dedication will be at the cost of the neighborhood," the NTMP states.
   The newly-installed traffic calming devices will be monitored and evaluated the first 60 to 90 days to ascertain if they meet desired objectives. If they do not, residents of the neighborhood "may also be required to fund the removal or alteration of the project," according to the NTMP.