Changes planned for High Street

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

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MURFREESBORO – Murfreesboro town officials are hopeful that new measures will help reduce speeding on High Street.

The town council voted at their meeting on January 11 to formally approve an amendment to the traffic ordinance. This codified their decision from their previous meeting in December to add all-way stops to two intersections on High Street and to lower the speed limit on the road to 20 mph.

At the December meeting, they approved ordering all the signage necessary to notify people of the traffic pattern change. The all-way stops will be at the High Street intersections with Lakeview Drive and Second Street.

Murfreesboro’s Public Works Foreman Glen Bergeron reported they had received all the signs except the ones for the new speed limit. Town Attorney Cecelia Jones advised the council that they could choose a date for the new ordinance to become effective, but the speed limit change couldn’t be enforced until the new signs were put up.

Council member David Brown motioned to make the ordinance effective January 12 (the day after the meeting), and Council member Berna Stephens seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

Reckless driving on High Street has been a point of concern for some time now, with several citizens speaking during public comments at past meetings to share their experiences. Many have reported cars tailgating them when they slow down for turns, reckless passing in the parking lane, and, of course, high speeds on the residential street. Some have expressed concerns for the safety of children who live on High Street.

In Nov. 2021, the town council approved a bid to restripe the faded lines on High Street at the request of those citizens.

But the reckless driving problem persisted.

Since Sept. 2022, the council has discussed the possibility of adding speed bumps to the road. They approved, at first, purchasing some speed bumps to be placed on River Street (by the park) and High Street. But the former public works director did not actually place the order, and the speed bumps he’d recommended were actually meant for parking lots and not residential streets.

In Nov. 2022, Police Chief David Griffith had officers from his department conduct a speed study on High Street to gather more data about the issue. According to his report, two officers conducted the study on two consecutive days 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.

At the Dec 2022 meeting, Murfreesboro Fire Chief Harrison Revelle raised concerns about the impact speed bumps would have on their vehicles. He pointed out that repair costs for damages could total as high as $5,000.

The council did not take any vote on speed bumps at the December meeting, so it was back as a topic of discussion again at the Jan. 11 meeting. Chief Griffith and MPD Captain James Dilday shared the research they had gathered in their effort to get quotes for purchasing the speed bumps.

Griffith noted that “speed bumps” were not the only kind of traffic-calming measures available. Options also included speed humps, speed cushions, and speed tables.

Humps are slightly smaller versions of speed bumps, and are generally designed for vehicles traveling around 15-20 mph. Speed cushions are similar but are broken up into three sections to span across the road, leaving space for larger vehicles – such as fire trucks and other emergency vehicles – to straddle the edges and avoid damage that other kinds of speed bumps may cause. A speed table is a wider version of a speed bump and are typically six feet in width.

Griffith said they had tried to get a quote from the same company that Chowan University had gotten theirs from, but the company had everything on back order. The other quote he secured listed one speed cushion at approximately $2,800. A speed hump, however, would be slightly less expensive.

Captain Dilday recommended locations to put the speed bumps if the council chose to do so, explaining that there would be two or three best locations in conjunction with the new all-way stop intersections. One of those locations would include the stretch between the Union Street and Fourth Street intersections.

“That seems to be where most people want to accelerate,” Dilday explained. “That would stop people from accelerating going east. And also, when they’re coming west, that’s where they hit their top speed.”

The other two recommended locations include the stretch between Chowan University’s main entrance and the Lakeview Drive intersection, and then the stretch between Lakeview Drive and Spring Avenue.

The council agreed by a unanimous vote to table the discussion and continue it at their next meeting. Griffith said they would continue to work on getting more quotes from other companies by then.

During department reports and council comments at the end of the meeting, several members of the council said they were glad to see progress being made on High Street and hoped to have the speed bump matter settled soon as well. They also commended Chief Griffith and his department for the work they’ve done so far, noting that 13 percent of the department’s traffic stops in 2022 were on High Street.