Soddy Daisy is making improvements to railroad crossings throughout the city. Just one bid was received - for $83,552. The project will be paid from a 100 percent reimbursable grant from TDOT with no money required from Soddy Daisy, but the city will have to spend the money up front and then be paid back. Work will be done on nine railroad crossings - all that there are in the city except the crossing at Harrison Lane since improvements were made there several years ago. New road signage will be put up and new crossing bars installed in the middle of the roads. New striping at the intersections of roads and tracks will mark where cars should stop and that point is farther back from the tracks than where they are now.
Two years ago a knuckle boom truck was ordered for the public works department. This is a truck with an arm attachment that can lift heavy loads. The city would use it for both cleaning debris left at the street and for picking up brush, and it would be used every day, said Public Works Director Steve Grant. That equipment would replace a dump truck and a backhoe that work together now to remove the debris. So a knuckle boom will take two vehicles off the streets, he said. After waiting two years, the city was recently informed that the price has increased for the equipment. When the original order was placed two years ago the cost was $163,000. An increase of $31,000 was given to City Manager Burt Johnson a week ago, bringing the total for the new knuckle boom truck to $194,000.
The commissioners voted to pay the increased amount, realizing that the price will continue to go up and, if it was ordered at a later date, would cost even more. Part of the increased cost will come from the amount budgeted for a pickup truck, which has been in the budget for the past two years and will not be delivered. Mr. Grant said after the commission approval, the knuckle boom truck should be ready in 30 days.
Commissioner Mark Penney said he has been hearing about two issues from citizens in the city. One is they have been asking for the pickleball courts to be lit now that days are getting shorter. City Manager Burt Johnson said the city has already been looking at options for lighting the courts but no decision has been made yet.
The other concern the commissioner has heard is an outcry about the new speed enforcement cameras around all of the schools in the city. He said that Soddy Daisy needs to put an explanation and the regulations about the cameras on the city’s website. Commissioner Gene Shipley said he has heard that people believe the cameras are for “fee grabbing.” That is not true, he said, they are only for safety of the children, parents who bring them to school and the police officer standing in the middle of the roads directing traffic.
The cameras identify speeding violations and they also can detect if a license plate is on a stolen vehicle or if the vehicle is registered to a suspicious person. When suspicious people are detected, an automatic alert goes to the police department, said the commissioner. Two warnings are given before a $50 ticket is issued and the city receives just $25 from it, so Soddy Daisy is not trying to make money from the cameras, but will be using them for safety, it was stated.
The public works department is putting up new traffic and street signs, and the commissioners have heard positive comments about them. A duck crossing sign around the lake is one that has been especially appreciated by residents, said Commissioner Marcus Keith, who has received calls thanking the city for those signs that alert people to watch out for ducks and geese crossing the road.
The Soddy Daisy Fall Festival, hosted by the volunteer group Keep Soddy Daisy Beautiful, will be Saturday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Soddy Lake Park. Cindi Sanden, a volunteer with the group, told the commissioners that there will be 150 vendors, horse carriage rides and 20 food trucks. There also will be community performers such as cheerleaders and bands from the schools. There will be a DJ and prizes will be given. Keep Soddy Daisy Beautiful also has a cleanup day scheduled for Oct. 7 for the Big Soddy Gulf Park.