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Mount Carmel preparing plan to improve worst stretches of Hammond

Jeff Bobo • Jan 22, 2013 at 10:42 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — Safety improvements will likely be made to one of Mount Carmel’s most dangerous stretches of roadway when the weather warms up.

There were 11 serious accidents on the 800 block of Hammond Avenue in 2012, the last of which was a head-on collision on Dec. 17 that resulted in a mother and her two children being hospitalized.

Fortunately injuries in the wreck weren’t serious, but city officials fear it is just a matter of time before there is a tragedy on that section of road.

Aside from being narrow and curved, that section of road is elevated incorrectly, which causes southbound vehicles to want to move toward the center line. The problem is exacerbated by wet conditions that make the road very slick.

Mayor Larry Frost said during Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting he is currently reviewing an engineer’s recommendations for that stretch of road.

One suggestion is to install an epoxy grid on the road that improves grip. Frost noted, however, that the epoxy material can’t be installed until the temperature surpasses 50 degrees.

Frost told the BMA on Tuesday the engineer also recommended installing a “Traffic Logic” digital sign board on the roadway to warn motorists of dangerous road conditions.

Other options discussed included sawing a grid into the roadway similar to the warning grids between most highways and the shoulder.

Frost noted, however, that if they improvements are “too extreme” motorists will begin complaining.

The cost of the sign board is $2,599, and the cost of the epoxy grid is estimated between $5,000 and $6,000.

“If you don’t want to go this route there are other routes we can go, but I’d say this (epoxy and sign board) will be the cheapest,” Frost told the board Tuesday. “The budget would have to be amended, but we do have the money to cover that. I roughed it out when we first started talking about it somewhere around $10,000.”

Frost told the board it will be presented with a final proposal for improvements to the 800 block of Hammonds Avenue at an upcoming meeting.

In other business Thursday the BMA:

•Voted 4-3 in favor of the first reading of an ordinance changing the monthly BMA meeting from the fourth Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. to the fourth Thursday each month at 7:15 p.m.

Wanda Davidson, Karl Wolfe and Leann Debord voted against the change. Both Wolfe and Davidson said the change to Thursday creates a personal time conflict for them.

But Vice Mayor Paul Hale said he proposed the change because it gives board members more time before the meeting to study their monthly reports and information packet, which they receive on Fridays. The ordinance requires approval of a second reading before it takes affect.

•Tabled the first reading of an ordinance that creates a personnel committee to address employee complaints, grievances and appeals.

Hale requested tabling the ordinance because he said he wanted the board to discuss it at “budget time.”

The BMA also tabled appointment of the new personnel committee that includes Mayor Larry Frost, Alderman Frances Frost, Hale, Wolfe, and Wastewater Manager/Fire Department Advisory Board Chairman Fred Arnold.

Personnel matters are currently reviewed by the full seven-member BMA. Debord asked the mayor where the idea for this change came from.

Mayor Frost replied, “We have changed some language in it, and we wanted the board to look at it, but evidently they don’t want to look at it at this time.”

Davidson voted against tabling the ordinance.

•Accepted the low bid of $355,200 from Frizzell Construction for installation of a new digester at the sewer plant. The majority of the cost will be paid from a state Community Development Block Grant, with the city’s match to be approximately $25,000.

•Heard a report from Mayor Frost commending city employees for their work during last week’s flooding and snow.

“It was a superb job and I heard many comments on it,” Frost said. “Everyone came together as a team and it all worked. This city has some super people who are always ready to stand up and toe the line when the times comes.”

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