published Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Speeders rampant on 19th Street in South Pittsburg

  • photo
    These 20 mph speed limit and warning signs are posted on South Pittsburg's 19th Street, but local residents complain that speeders are rife on the road. Photo by Ryan Lewis

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — City officials have been working for months to slow down speeders on 19th Street, but so far nothing has been very effective.

Resident Barbara Ables recently said something needs to be done about speeding along her street because she fears a horrible accident is looming.

The speed limit was 15 mph, she said, but it was raised to 20 mph last year.

"I was told it was too hard to go 15 on 19th," she said in May. "That just gave them license to go faster. We have got more children down there now than we have had in many a year. Somebody's going to get run over."

Mayor Jane Dawkins said the road is monitored more than any other and has the lowest speed limit in the city.

"We've put up new 'Children At Play' signs," she said last month. "The highway patrol is required to spend an hour per shift there, and they have to check in down there to verify that. I don't know anywhere else they do that."

Police Chief Dale Winters said his officers are required to spend at least one hour per shift monitoring the road as well, and sometimes empty patrol cars are left there in an effort to slow traffic.

"Speeding is a problem down there," he said. "We can sit there all day long, and they'll slow down.

"As soon as they're [police] gone, they're flying again," Ables said. "The police try, I know. They've done good."

One possible solution is installing a three-way stop at 19th Street and Hamilton Avenue, City Administrator Sammy Burrows said.

The South Pittsburg City Commission would have to approve an ordinance for that, he said.

"We'll try this and see what happens," he said. "We're not going to let it go. I don't know what's going to work, but we can at least try something."

Ables is not confident a new stop sign will be effective.

"They don't stop for the four-way [stop at Cumberland Avenue]," she said. "I don't see why they would stop for a three."

Several other solutions have been proposed, Ables said, including using an optical illusion.

Dawkins said the three-dimensional artwork involves children's characters painted on the road.

"From a certain distance, it looks like the children are crossing the street," she said.

At this point, Dawkins said, there may not be much more the city can do to control the problem.

"We're just going to keep trying to do what we can do and maybe we'll find a solution," she said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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