A rash of complaints over speeding in Waynesville neighborhoods has led to a new policy for traffic calming measures.
Before, residents’ only recourse was to beg for a speed bump, with an all-but-guaranteed ‘no’ due the town’s anti-speed-bump philosophy. Now, those concerned about speeding and cut-through traffic have a clear process to make their case and seek relief.
Residents must meet certain criteria: notably a petition signed by 65 percent of property owners on the street and a traffic study showing that average speeds indeed exceed the speed limit. The town would then entertain the idea of traffic calming measures.
The town engineer would work with residents to design the most suitable traffic calming device for their street — be it the speed bump’s more axle-friendly cousin known as a speed table or a host of other strategies that get people to slow down.
Alderman Jon Feichter, one of the champions behind the new policy, said it is much needed, lauding the objective approach.
“I think that we are being very thoughtful when we look at one of these situations,” Feichter said. “There is significant citizen input combined with the technical expertise from our staff.”
Disturbing the peace
Some residents who spoke during a public hearing on the new policy at a Waynesville town board meeting this week said speeding is only part of the problem.
“Speeding is a menace to our streets, but it is by far not the only issue,” said Wes Taylor, who citing commercial truck traffic using Brown Avenue. “Trucks much larger than the road can handle barrel down Brown Avenue at all hours of the day and night. We can’t walk the sidewalks without watching for these trucks.”
Taylor said the trucks, which routinely hit the curb, are a serious threat to kids walking to-and-from Waynesville Middle. Among the culprits are drivers for Giles Chemical going back and forth from the Frog Level plant to the Hazelwood warehouse.
“Brown Avenue may be the most direct route for these commercial trucks, but it is not an appropriate commercial route,” Taylor said.
William Everette, who also lives along Brown Avenue, cited another traffic issue degrading quality of life.
“Noise affects our emotional, psychological, and even physical health, not to mention constricting the enjoyment of our porches, decks and outdoor spaces,” said Everette.
Everette has an app on his phone that measures noise, and routinely picks up vehicles that exceed the town’s noise ordinance. He cited “amplified woofers that can be heard for blocks away” and engines that “have been expressly equipped to aggravate their noise, whether to make them sound like jet engines or mighty logging trucks.”
One source of debate over the new traffic calming policy was whether renters counted toward the 65 percent of petition signatures needed for a traffic calming measure.
“I think we should include renters,” Feichter said. “They have to deal with the negative impacts of traffic and speeding as well, so why shouldn’t we allow them to weigh in and be part of the solution?”
Mayor Gary Caldwell didn’t think short-term renters should get equal weight in a long-term decision.
“I feel like it is the property owners responsibility themselves to look after the renter,” Caldwell said.
Alderman Anthony Sutton noted the dilemma of verifying a renter’s address, aside from a utility bill or voter registration card. He suggested going with property owners for now, with the option of amending the policy to include renters if it turns out to be too much of a hurdle. It was passed unanimously.
“OK, let the applications begin,” Caldwell said.