Proposal To Use Traffic Cameras Draws Interest, Criticism For Signal Mountain Police Chief

School Buses, Delivery Trucks Traveling 45 MPH In Residential Areas The Real Problem, Some Say

Monday, September 14, 2009 - by Judy Frank

A recent traffic study that showed more than 90 percent of observed drivers were speeding as they drove along Signal Mountain streets clearly demonstrates that something needs to be done, virtually everyone agreed Monday evening during the regular town council meeting.

But there was widespread disagreement over what the correct response would be.

Signal Mountain Police Chief Boyd Veal, who presented the report to the council, said he believes the town should consider using traffic cameras mounted on trucks to catch speeders, as Chattanooga and Red Bank already do.

Nonsense, some critics responded angrily.

"If 95 percent of the town is speeding, then the speed limits are too low," argued Noah Long, a frequent critic of council actions. "Studies show that most people drive at speeds consistent with road conditions . . . Now there are always fools. There are always kids . . . But I'm absolutely, totally against cameras."

If the town really wants to do something about speeding, he said, then it needs to take action against the drivers of school buses and delivery trucks he sees speeding through his neighborhood.

"School buses run down out streets at 45 mph at 6 o'clock in the morning," he said. "That's where the problems are . . . We need to send delegations to UPS . . . the school board . . . and tell that we are going to start tailing commercial bus drivers . . . UPS drivers . . . and take them off the road."

But Racie Miller, a James Avenue resident who regularly walks along the streets near her home, came to Chief Veal's defense. The police chief and the town council deserve praise, not condemnation, for researching speed cameras and other possible ways to make streets safer, she said.

During her walks, she said, she often sees people traveling 40 mph through her neighborhood, That's hazardous, she said, particularly since many families with young children are in that area.

"I personally do hate those cameras . . . " she added. "I'd like to see speed bumps."

Mr. Long, the retired engineer, took particular aim at an earlier town council action setting the speed limit on Taft Highway - the main road through town - at 35 mph.

Low speed limits make sense in residential neighborhoods where children play and adults walk along the streets, he said. But Taft Highway is a four-lane "collector . . . major arterial . . . road."

But Mrs. Miller said the 35 mph limit should not be raised.

"If you're coming off a side street trying to get on Taft, going against the traffic, even at 35 mph it's very hard to do . . . 35 mph - no higher -- is necessary on Taft."

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