City council to consider easing speed hump policy
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
April 11, 2012 12:55 AM | 2393 views | 13 13 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patrick Thompson stands at the corner of Maxwell Avenue SW and Rambo Place as a motorist turns near Thompson's Marietta home on Tuesday. Thompson said cut-through traffic is heavy on his street during peak hours and speed cushions would deter speeding. <br> Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
Patrick Thompson stands at the corner of Maxwell Avenue SW and Rambo Place as a motorist turns near Thompson's Marietta home on Tuesday. Thompson said cut-through traffic is heavy on his street during peak hours and speed cushions would deter speeding.
Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
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MARIETTA — The Marietta City Council tonight will consider making it easier to install speed humps in neighborhoods.

“I get more phone calls about this than by far anything else in the city,” said Councilman Johnny Sinclair, who requested the issue be put on the agenda. “This whole safety of our streets and quality of life in the neighborhoods has become a major issue.”

The city’s speed hump policy requires 65 percent of property owners in an affected neighborhood to vote in favor of the speed humps before the Council will consider authorizing their installment.

Sinclair wants to ease that restriction by not counting the property owners who fail to vote on the petition as “no” votes.

“In an election, if somebody doesn’t vote, you don’t make an assumption about what their vote is. You just don’t count them,” Sinclair said.

Patrick Thompson, who lives in Rambo Estates off Whitlock Avenue with his 12- and 14-year-old children, said speed humps would slow down drivers who cut through his neighborhood on their way to and from Atlanta.

“I’ve seen cars treat our road like a drag strip,” Thompson said.

The drivers cut through his neighborhood in order to avoid the congested turn from the Loop onto Whitlock Avenue, he said.

“It’s west Cobb and Paulding County,” he said. “They’re heading down Whitlock and trying to beat the traffic. So they cut through here to try to beat that light. … I understand their dilemma: They’re trying to get home, and it’s traffic. But our dilemma is we have families living on these streets that have children and elderly people.”

Councilman Philip Goldstein has reservations about changing the policy.

“When you’re doing something that is as intrusive as speed humps in the neighborhood, you ought to require full participation and say from folks in that neighborhood … so that it’s not something if folks wake up tomorrow and say, ‘How did we get this?’” Goldstein said.

Just because someone didn’t vote doesn’t mean they approve of installing speed humps in their neighborhood, Goldstein said. They might be on vacation, for example.

“You’ll find there are a number of folks that absolutely do not like them,” Goldstein said. “It also impedes flow whether someone is going the speed limit or not. It slows people down sometimes substantially lower than what the speed limit is, and to me, when you’re impeding getting to someone’s home, that’s intrusive.”

Mayor Steve Tumlin is also cautious about any changes.

“We don’t want to make it too easy or too hard, and we don’t want a minority to speak for the majority, ever,” Tumlin said.

Tumlin says he’s not sure yet what the voting formula should be.

“If it goes on Chestnut Hill Road, does everybody in Charlton Forge get to vote? Does everybody in Whitlock Heights?” Tumlin said. “We’re going to have to make sure we have the right people voting.”

The Council approved a speed hump policy in 2002 and has since installed speed humps in a few locations that have requested them and agreed to pay for them. East Park Subdivision paid for some to be installed, and WellStar Health System agreed to pay for some on Campbell Hill Street, said Dan Conn, the city’s public works director.

As part of a pilot project, the Council also installed speed cushions on Wright Street and Bellemeade Drive. The rubberized devices allow larger vehicles like fire trucks to pass uninhibited but slow down vehicles with smaller wheels.

The pilot revealed that traffic slowed in the immediate vicinity of the speed cushions, Conn said.

There were also two line items approved in the 2011 SPLOST for traffic-calming devices, which include speed humps, speed tables, raised intersections or textured crosswalks: $400,000 for installations throughout the city and $740,000 for 13 specific intersections identified from a planning study, Conn said.

Last September, in deciding where to spend the $400,000, the Council approved a prioritization list based on such things as how fast cars drive on a particular street, if there is a nearby school or park and the amount of accidents.

Conn said his office has received more than 50 requests for speed humps at different locations in the city.
Comments
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Marietta Resident
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April 12, 2012
I think several people are missing the point of the speed bumps. I don't think anyone wants to deny anyone the right to drive through town on a main road such as Polk Street, Whitlock Avenue, Stewart Avenue as traffic lights and volume keep traffic at the speed limit or slower. I think people are interested in keeping traffic at a reasonable speed through neighborhoods like Keeler Woods, Whitlock Heights, etc. where there are school buses stopping, people walking their dogs, etc and there is really no reason to drive down those streets unless you live on one and if one chooses to drive down one, they SHOULD be mindful of the people living there. Unfortunately, most are not mindful and tend to fly through with no regard for anything but their way home. A speed bump would be the gentle reminder they need. It is not a barrier, it is a mechanism used to slow people down where they need to be slowed.
Typical small
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April 12, 2012
minded Marietta politics. Make a small move to appease a few while ignoring the greater problem. Eubanks spoke of it below. A greater traffic solution is needed. People are not going to drive around Marietta to get where they are going just because you don't like it. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. Making traffic more difficult to manage does not prevent people from coming through, it simply makes it slow down and become more crowded.

We read of the fears that not enough people coming to the square will kill off businesses like it did the Theater (although poor management had a lot to do with that). Yet, in the next breath, we see more restrictions designed to punish people who do not live near the square. But in reality, Mariettians are in turn making it worse on themselves. Making it hard to get through Marietta turns people off and they spend money elsewhere.

Traffic is here and it is going to stay. Ignoring this has created this little issue and it will continue to get worse. A little reality check would be welcomed by all.

Lastly, expecting Sinclair to do anything other than trying to get re-elected is laughable. This city needs leadership...He ain't it.
Mike O. Bedenbaugh
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April 11, 2012
I have said for years the answer for the traffic congestion leaving or entering Marietta on the west side is to make Polk Street one way out of (the loop) Marietta (2 lanes west) and Whitlock Street one way (into Marietta or to the loop) 2 lanes from around Burnt Hickory and Marietta High School. The people wanting to get to a street off one to the other just cuts thru a side street between the two. This gives more traffic flow (twice as much) in the direction of travel. The city just reprograms the traffic lights at the loop to the traffic flow. It also save the historic trees on historic Whitlock.
marietta resident
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April 11, 2012
I live on one of the streets that is a cut through. I don't mind so much that people cut through the neighborhood -- what I mind is that they don't go the speed limit. If you want to cut through the neighborhoods, please go the speed limit. And to Evil West Cobber -- it's not that folks are walking in the streets. Many speeders have come close to hitting pedestrians on the sidewalk or homeowners when they are mowing the grass near the curb.
Evil West Cobber
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April 11, 2012
Maybe these Marietta snobs should get over the fact that they don't own the whole county. Keep their kids and old people off the streets. Residential streets aren't playgrounds or walking trails. A street is made for driving on, if you can't get out of the way then that's your fault. I know exactly the road this article is talking about. It's Reynolds Street and I use it almost every day and will continue to use it even with speed bumps. Maybe I'll at least start honking as I'm heading down that road to let you know I'm coming!
Maybe a good thing .
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April 11, 2012
Hmmm ... so if we have more speed bumps we should have fewer police officers propped behind trees trying to hand out tickets. Then maybe they will spend more time coming up with ways to catch more serious crimials ... nah, they'll just prop behind bushes and find people to profile and stop for harmless misdemeanors.
captain marietta
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April 11, 2012
Someone should tell Johnny Sinclair that there are other neighborhoods in has Ward besides Whitlock Ave. These other neighborhoods have much more significant issues other than worrying about how fast people are driving.
Just Wait
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April 11, 2012
In most cases, the "evil doers" that speed and run stop signs are the people who live in the subdivisions and immediate areas. Try leading by example and the "outsiders" will follow along. Installing speed cushions, humps or bumps only cause people to speed between them and cause damage to cars.
Beldar Conehead
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April 11, 2012
Ahh. So it's really the speed bump's fault and not the driver's. Interesting observation. I get it, kind of like - it's the gun's fault and not the shooter's. Welcome to the twisted logic of Obamaworld.
Just Wait
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April 12, 2012
It is neither twisted logic nor your need to blame Obama for everything you don't agree with. Next time you're in a large parking lot with speed bumps, just watch the cars as they move between them. Unless, of course, if observing the facts takes too much of your time away for speculation.
James Eubanks
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April 11, 2012
As a resident on a cut-through street between the South Loop and Whitlock Avenue, I can attest to the dangerous habits of many drivers today who heed caution neither to speed limits nor stop signs. Thankfully for the families on Wright Street, some former neighbors spearheaded the effort to get our speed cushions installed, and they have been a tremendous help. However, the rubberized cushions are a bit less effective than the full speed tables that were installed recently on Sessions Street.

The root of the problem is that the city faces some areas with heavy traffic congestion which leads to desperate drivers seeking alternative routes through neighborhoods. I believe installing more traffic devices like speed cushions and tables is a good step for ensuring the protection of pedestrians and returning a sense of tranquility in residential neighborhoods, but these are merely stopgap measures. Ultimately our city leadership will need to make some longer term decisions on how to approach traffic flow. Unfortunately, that is a challenging discussion with no clear good path to follow. If we want to continue economic development and growth in our area, however, handling more cars is a necessary byproduct.

Manning Rd.
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April 11, 2012
Blame it on West Cobb and Paulding AGAIN. Get over yourselves. Don't you know that where you are talking about is also West Cobb?

How about some speed humps down Manning Rd next to the high school? You can reach a solid 55 on that strip, right near the high school and Burruss. Tried to make that happen several years ago and was rejected. Guess it will take a kid being hit by a car or a speeding school bus to make that change. Better hope it's not my kid, Marietta.
Marietta Dweller
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April 11, 2012
I don't think they are blaming West Cobb/Paulding, it's just the truth. You don't cut through there unless you are heading out Whitlock to West Cobb/Paulding. The traffic on Whitlock isn't caused by Marietta citizens. And you must not be from Marietta if you consider Downtown Marietta West Cobb.
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