Metro council discusses plans to improve speed, traffic control in neighborhoods

Posted at 10:39 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 23:39:42-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Traffic trouble in your neighborhood could be coming to an end. In a special joint committee on Monday members with the Planning, Zoning and Historical members and Public Works committee reviewed updates to the Traffic Calming Program as well as the speed reduction study.

“I'm a district council member where I had children get killed, I had vehicles run into homes, I had crossing guards get hit,” said District 28 Council Member Tanaka Vercher.Vercher was critical in the updates for the program, she says it creates “winners and losers” in neighborhoods when it comes to safety.

So far, 8 neighborhoods like were selected for the first round in the traffic calming program.

1. Highland Heights

2. Tennessee State University / 39th Avenue North

3. Haywood South

4. Hillwood

5. Jones Avenue

6. Caldwell-Abbay Hall

7. Katie Hill

8. Belmont-Hillsboro West

The program allows neighborhoods to apply with public works to find ways to slow down traffic in their communities with ideas like signage, speed cushions or roundabouts.

Public Works now opens two traffic calming application periods per year—one in January and one in July. Neighborhoods are able to submit completed traffic calming applications. Members suggested on Monday just one application period, so neighborhoods don’t have to go through the process for a second time.

But some council members believe other neighborhoods are a higher priority.

“There was a study done for the most dangerous streets in Nashville, 4 out 5 of them were in the Antioch area; none of those streets' neighborhoods were selected according to your model,” said Vercher.

The Traffic Calming Program selection is based on several factors like crash and speed. Public Works Program Manager Derek Hagerty says the 8 neighborhoods selected had one or two characteristics.

“One the crash rate was over 7 crashes per mile per year or the 85-percentile speed was over 41 miles an hour,” said Hagerty.

District 15 Council member Jeff Syracuse applauded Monday’s presentation from public works and its staff’s efforts in working with his constituents.

“None of my neighborhoods were selected but the overall feeling from my neighborhood leaders is they really appreciate the communication throughout this process,” said Syracuse.

However, Vercher says more work needs to be done.

“It's fundamentally flawed, I don't know what to tell my constituents when they know we have some of the most dangerous streets in the city and they're going to see these other areas get these improvements,” Vercher said.

Council will look further into the budget on Tuesday.

The committee also discussed the speed limit reduction feasibility study analyzes the reduction of vehicular speed limits (30 mph to 25 mph) on all locally classified streets.
The goal for the speed limit reduction is to increase safety for all roadway users – motorized and non-motorized users alike. An implementation strategy for accomplishing this task is provided along with potential issues and concerns, as well as possible countermeasures. The recommended implementation strategy is as follows:

· Speed limit reduction (30 mph to 25 mph) would apply to all locally classified streets with the Urban Services District; any exceptions to this would be presented to and decided by the Traffic & Parking Commission following its typical procedures.

· A reduction requires all existing 30 mph speed limit sign faces be replaced. Metro Public Works’ speed limit sign inventory (with geocoded locations) will be updated, while also noting existing speed limit pavement marking locations, using Metro Public Work’s photolog.

· Conservatively, the sign face replacement process would occur over the course of one (1) year with the project divided into four relatively equal phases. The phases may be generally categorized by council districts. The most central, urbanized districts will be implemented first, and then expanding outward from there. The opinion of probable cost is approximately $750,000 to $1,000,000. · Countermeasures for addressing potential issues and concerns with the speed limit reduction are detailed in this report. They fall within three general categories – education, engineering, and enforcement. The education component will likely be the most effective before, during, and immediately following construction in supporting this broad scale change. Countermeasures should be periodically monitored and evaluated in order to refine the mix of strategies as to maximize resources and associated impacts on safety.

· A task force focused on improving roadway safety should be considered to identify a specific countermeasure strategy tailored to meet Nashville Davidson County’s dynamic needs. This task force could also provide important analyses of, and guidance on, the evolution of this strategy.