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‘Traffic calming’ on city’s radar; Public Safety Committee and forum draws attention to speeding

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Fire Chief Devin Graham, Mike Mathews, and Councilor Steve Henderson discuss various topics at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Mathews said the city has been looking into traffic calming under the direction of City Manager Joe Neeb to improve Roswell’s speeding problems. (Alison Penn Photo)

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The city of Roswell has heard the voices of citizens regarding the speeding problem and is researching traffic calming to curb the problem.

“One of the topics that may help — and they are talking about it in Infrastructure and Public Safety — is traffic calming and trying to figure out ways in order to help the psychology of people driving,” City Manager Joe Neeb said at the public forum on Monday.

Councilor Jeanine Corn Best, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said the city discussed traffic calming at the forum on Monday. At the public forum, City Engineer Louis Najar said curbs are not painted yellow anymore and would not want to put a speed bump on anything over 30 miles an hour and not a residential street. Clearing any misconceptions, he also informed the room that stop signs are not used to control speed — but rather to direct traffic.

“We wouldn’t put speed bumps on Main Street,” Neeb said. “Everybody would probably like them at times but it is — it’s a major arterial. There’s minor arterials, collectors, and then you get all the way down to the neighborhood streets. It’s trying to do the right traffic calming for the right type of street — it’s the number of vehicles, it’s the speed of the traffic — everything that all plays into that. But that is something that we’re trying to find a better solution to as to how we tackle that issue.”

Regarding Lea Avenue, Neeb said people naturally tend to drive faster on wider roads and slow down when the road is tightened with curb extensions and pedestrian crossings — a traffic-calming technique called a road diet.

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“Back in the day, it was more residential,” Najar said of the street. “But any part of town, people just don’t have respect anymore like they used to have.”

Najar said the collector street has been a problem for a long time. After studies over the years, he said he is unsure of what to do but has shared the information with the police department when more speeding tends to happen.

During Public Safety Committee, Mike Mathews, the city’s special services administrator, said traffic calming will be on Public Safety agendas every month and he was instructed to research more on the topic from the city manager. At the moment, Mathews said he is learning what he can, and will be working on a traffic-calming policy.

“Some issues that I had with it was obviously with these guys and the law enforcement is slowing down responses,” Mathews said gesturing to Fire Chief Devin Graham and other fire department staff present. “I was able to find what is called a traffic cushion.”

He explained that a fire apparatus is wide enough to drive over the cushion, which he compared to a portable speed hump, without hindrance. However, this does not apply to police vehicles or ambulances. Mathews said he passed on the idea of the cushion to the city engineer and Najar will cover this topic at the next Infrastructure Committee meeting on May 29. Mathews also said he has seen reviews of approval on the traffic cushions from other fire departments.

On other traffic-calming matters, Councilor Steve Henderson asked about liability regarding speed bumps and Deputy Chief Mike Stanton said as long as a sign is visible, potential liability will be relieved according to state statute.

“We have the traffic complaints all over town,” Joe Smith, Roswell Police Department’s criminal investigations commander, said. “As they’re made — brought to our attention, we do our very best to address it. Of course, not making excuses — but we are shorthanded and so we can’t be everywhere at once. Whenever we get the complaint, for example, South Sunset, we send people over there — then we are getting complaints on another part of town where we have to take resources from. So we do take those complaints very serious and we send people out.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.