DALTON, Ga. -- During a public meeting that lasted for more than an hour, residents of a historic Dalton neighborhood pleaded with the city to put speed bumps on their streets to slow traffic.
"Am I wrong to expect to walk in my neighborhood?" Martin Lewis asked, amid applause from the audience at City Hall on Thursday. "My wife gave me a bicycle for Christmas that I would like to ride."
But the chairman of the Public Works Committee, City Councilman Dick Lowrey, told the group of more than 20 people he favors trying less intrusive methods first.
"They have legitimate concerns, but we want to give these things a chance to work," he said after the meeting.
The neighbors, who live in the area of Valley Drive and Emery Street in southwestern Dalton, began gathering signatures on a petition last year and addressed the mayor and City Council in January.
In response, the city gathered information about ways to stop speeding and running stop signs in the area. Capt. Tom Phillips with the Dalton Police Department and Andrew Parker, project manager at the Public Works Department, spoke first.
Data collected from a stationary speed trailer placed on Valley Drive showed about 42 percent of the traffic traveled above the posted speed limit of 25 mph Phillips said. That area has had 19 accidents since January 2009, he said.
In an interview before the meeting, Dalton Police Chief Jason Parker said the number of accidents is typical or even lower than in other areas of Dalton.
"It is difficult to compare exactly, but the data seems to support that it is not a significant problem," Jason Parker said. "There are things we can do to figure out a solution by working with existing state laws and city ordinances."
The area does not have sidewalks and has quite a bit of traffic, he said.
Andrew Parker proposed the city lower the speed limit on one road, put in 15 additional speed limit signs and prohibit large trucks in the area. Some of those actions would require approval from the mayor and City Council, he said.
Residents who brought the petition before the city took the floor one by one to say they did not think signs and patrols would fix the problem.
Larry Swanson described having a vehicle crash into his house recently, causing $20,000 in damage.
"I have become an overnight expert on traffic -- and signs don't get the job done," he said. "I know speed bumps are as popular as taking your mother-in-law along on your honeymoon, but it is better than having a child run over on Valley Drive."
After the meeting, Tiffany Ruble described the hours of effort to galvanize the neighborhood, saying she was very disappointed the city didn't offer to make more changes.
"We didn't do all this for a few signs," she said. "I want something that is going to work 20 years from now."
Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at email@example.com or 706-980-5824.
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