Stop signs start talk

Published 1:12 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

During its Jan. 9 meeting, Washington’s City Council heard two city residents talk about stop signs.
The council heard Smallwood resident Tom Archie ask that additional stops signs and/or speed bumps be considered for Smallwood in an effort to slow down traffic. He presented a map showing where he thinks stop signs would do the most good.
Late last year, the council OK’d installing four-way stops at the intersections of Lawson Road and Eden Drive and Lawson Road and Dimock Road in Smallwood. Some Smallwood residents sought the four-ways stops in an effort to slow traffic moving through the subdivision,
“I’m here to tell you that’s not solving the problem,” Archie said.
Traffic on Market Street Extension, which runs by Smallwood, has increased noticeably since John Small Elementary School and P.S. Jones Middle School were built next to the street and opened several years ago, he said.
“What we have now is basically a thoroughfare going through a residential subdivision,” Archie said. “It’s not a good thing. … I am suggesting this is a good time to basically finish what you started several months ago.”
Archie said he wasn’t asking the council to act immediately on his request but to study the issue while drainage improvements continue in a section of Smallwood. Perhaps the installation of additional stop signs could come after the drainage improvements are completed and parts of roads now closed during that work are reopened, he suggested. That may be the time to make such changes, he added.
Derik Davis, who lives on Charlotte Street, also talked to the council about stop signs. Davis said he doesn’t believe erecting more stop signs is the sole answer to curbing speeding and increased traffic through neighborhoods.
“I could probably make a good argument for the placement of stops signs at every intersection on Charlotte Street, from John Small Avenue right on down to Third Street. … We have quite a bit of traffic that goes by my house,” Davis said. “I want to come before you and challenge you all and your thinking about this issue of traffic and speeding — to really look to some alternatives other than putting up stop signs. If that’s necessary in some areas, that’s fine, but we would soon have a city with stops signs at every intersection. At what point do you stop and close the gate that you have opened?”
Davis said he can recall when motorists could drive on West Main, East Main and East 10th streets “and not encounter a stop sign.”
“I’m not convinced that stop signs are the answer to slow people down,” Davis said. “I’ve seen people hit their gas, leaving one stop sign to get to another. I like the idea of speed bumps. … You don’t see very many people speeding in Washington Park because if they hit the bump at any sort of speed, it’s going to tear the underneath of your car out. I think also a ticket would probably slow people down, too.”
Washington Park uses speed bumps to slow traffic.
Davis said enforcement of traffic laws also would help solve speeding problems.
“I think enforcement is the way we slow folks down,” he said.
In another traffic related matter, the council ordered the closure and abandonment of a segment of East Main Street and its right of way near Havens Gardens.
The council followed the recommendation of the Planning Board and closed that segment of East Main Street that intersections with a portion of Park Drive. Closing that section should ease traffic concerns at and near the intersection of East Main Street, Park Drive and Hudnell Street, city officials said.
The closure came at the end of a public hearing, at which no one spoke for or against the proposal.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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