Another ‘bump’ in the road

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

MURFREESBORO – After a long discussion during their regular meeting on Dec. 14, the Murfreesboro Town Council approved making some changes which will hopefully slow down speeders on High Street in the future.

Two residents of High Street spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to share their ongoing concerns about speeding drivers on their road.

Geri Bradshaw explained that people tailgate her when she’s trying to turn into her driveway and some even recklessly pass her car when she’s driving the 25 mph speed limit. Michael Saner noted that there are plenty of small children who live along the street, and he was concerned for their safety.

“I think the only thing we’re going to be able to do is physically slow them down,” Saner said.

Both referred to adding speed bumps as a possible solution.

The town council previously discussed speed bumps at a meeting in September. Council member James Futrell said he had concerns about cars speeding down River Street beside the park when children are often playing. He suggested adding speed bumps on that road and on High Street to address previous complaints.

At that meeting, Futrell motioned to purchase 20 speed bumps and council member David Brown seconded. The vote passed unanimously among those in attendance at that meeting.

But the installation of any speed bumps did not proceed afterwards since the town wanted to gather more information to determine the best places to put them. And the former Public Works Director failed to place the order for those speed bumps.

At the Dec. 14 meeting, Fire Chief Harrison Revelle spoke on how speed bumps could impact their operations, and Police Chief David Griffith presented the results of a speed study conducted on High Street.

Revelle raised concerns that speed bumps could cause damage to their fire trucks.

“These trucks are extremely heavy with a lot of water on the back of them. We have blown seals out the back axels before just from hitting minor bumps,” Revelle explained, noting that those repair bills can total more than $5,000.

Revelle acknowledged that he understood the citizens’ perspective about safety, but also pointed out that speeding happens everywhere.

“I feel, and some of the other officers feel that [speed bumps] could be a hinderance to response time and maintenance for our trucks,” he said. “But whatever we decide to do, of course we’re going to do our absolute best to serve the needs of the town. At whatever expense it is. I’ll blow the seal out on a truck to come stop a house fire, whether its on my personal truck or one of these fire trucks.”

Chief Griffith shared the results of the speed study conducted by two of his officers on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 during certain 30-minute time periods in the morning and evening. Average speeds ranged from 31.5 mph to 27.5 mph during those time periods. The max speed recorded was 42 mph.

In his report, Griffith stated he did not think speed bumps were necessary on High Street and a radar sign might be more beneficial, especially since it can be moved around town to address other problem areas. He also agreed with Chief Revelle’s assessment about potential damage to first responder vehicles, buses, or other large vehicles that may travel down that street.

“This data doesn’t necessarily reflect all the data,” Griffith acknowledged. “I don’t want to look at the speed study and say we don’t have a speed problem completely. There are times when we do have speed problems.”

“I just want to make sure we address it appropriately,” he continued. “I just don’t want to put a bunch of speed bumps in the road and think we’re going to solve our problem, and then the problem goes to Broad Street or Main Street, and people start acting silly there. I think we should really put some thought into it.”

Griffith stated that he also liked the idea of adding an all-way stop to the road, in addition to his suggestion of using a radar sign. But like Revelle, he concluded his remarks by noting that the police department would provide support for whatever the town decides.

Mayor Hal Thomas also noted that a council member who wasn’t in attendance at that night’s meeting had put forth the suggestion of lowering the speed limit on High Street. He did not clarify which member had that idea. Council members Jay Revelle and James Futrell were unable to attend the Dec. 14 meeting.

Council member David Brown suggested putting two all-way stops on High Street, at the intersections with Second Street and Lakeview Drive. He said that in order to follow NCDOT requirements, they would have to order signage that announces the traffic pattern change 30 to 60 days ahead of time. That signage would total $581.

“I was all for the speed bumps until I talked to Chief Harrison [Revelle],” Brown explained. “I thought that was a great idea. If you want to drive 40 [mph] down High Street, you’re going to have a repair bill soon. But having done more research, after realizing what the damage could be to the trucks… I think a $581 solution seems to be a common sense solution.”

Council member Berna Stephens also weighed in on the matter. As a resident of High Street herself, she said she’s often seen and experienced the same kinds of complaints the other citizens had. She liked the idea of lowering the speed limit, and understood the concerns about potential damage to fire trucks.

“I’m not sure what the answer is, but we need to do something,” she said.

Council member Craig Dennis said he travels down High Street frequently on his commute and has witnessed the same concerns as noted by other individuals. Dennis said he understood the concerns raised by the fire chief, but still thought speed bumps would be helpful to address the issue.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we voted, this council voted, on speed bumps,” Dennis pointed out.

Brown reiterated that the former Public Works Director neglected to place the order on those approved speed bumps, calling it another ‘speed bump’ in the long road to addressing the issue. Stephens noted that the council did previously agree on the speed bumps, and the speed study was supposed to determine where to put them, not if to install them.

“I’m just thinking, big picture, well, we don’t need to be replacing fire trucks every time we go on a call,” Brown said. “I was just looking for a fix that seemed to hit all the bases. If it doesn’t, then we’ll do something else.”

Brown motioned to order the signage necessary to notify people of an upcoming traffic pattern change (the proposed all-way stops) at a total cost of $581.48. Stephens provided the second. The vote was unanimously in favor among the council members in attendance.

Brown also said he’d like the speed bumps, which were approved back in September, to also be ordered as soon as possible. There was no motion made to vote again on the matter.

Dennis then motioned to reduce the speed limit on High Street from 25 to 20 mph. Stephens again provided the second, and the vote again passed unanimously among the council.

Town Attorney Cecelia Jones said she would draft a formal resolution of the changes for the council to vote on at their next meeting in January.

As previously reported by the News Herald, the same group of High Street residents came before the council in Oct. 2021 to share their concerns about reckless drivers endangering the residents and their children. They requested, as a first step towards solving the problem, to restripe the road to make the parking lane more visible.

In Nov. 2021, the council voted to approve a bid for restriping High Street, and the work was completed soon after.