Dangerous road in Mount Carmel getting more speed enforcement

Jeff Bobo • Feb 27, 2013 at 10:41 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — A dangerous stretch of Hammond Avenue where 13 wrecks occurred in 2012 will receive 30 more days of enhanced speed enforcement before Mount Carmel leaders decide if the roadway needs to be altered.

Of those 13 accidents in 2012, the majority and most serious occurred on a curve near 830 Hammond Ave.

Since the beginning of 2013, the Mount Carmel Police Department has placed a mobile speed detection device at that location that shows motorists the speed limit and then flashes how fast they are traveling.

Vice Mayor Paul Hale, who chairs the town’s Safety Committee, told the BMA on Tuesday the police department has also started using fixed radar from marked patrol cars and issuing several warnings for speeding.

There was a horrific head-on collision on that section of Hammond Avenue on Dec. 16 in which a mother and two children were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Since then, the BMA has been discussing remedies, including a proposed warning sign and surface epoxy to improve grip — which combined would cost an estimated $10,000.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Hale read a letter to the BMA from MCPD Chief Mike Campbell stating the chief’s recommendation that continued speed control is the answer.

Campbell wrote in the letter, “Since the start of these cycles of enforcement and warnings we have not had an accident anywhere along this stretch of Hammond Avenue, leading us to believe that although the roadway is slick at this location during the rain ... the major cause of accidents are speed related. By using these speed deterrent options we have virtually eliminated accidents. We will continue using these measures to prevent vehicles from traveling too fast on Hammond Avenue, and hopefully this will solve our traffic problem at this location.”

Mayor Larry Frost suggested that the road be monitored by police for another 30 days, after which the BMA look at it again.

A motion to that effect was approved by the BMA 7-0.

Alderman Carl Wolfe noted that with rain and snow possible this weekend, the town will find out shortly if reduced speed will counteract the slickness.

Wolfe said that instead of warnings over the next 30 days, police should try writing tickets.

“According to the police chief, no matter what we do, if we don’t slow the people down we’re back to page one,” Frost said. “Speed is the factor. I’d like to monitor that road for another 30 days at that curve, and let’s see what happens. If push comes to shove, we may have to put a flashing sign up there.”

Frost added, “I’m looking at the liability part of the road. Going in there and doing something with asphalt — putting a sealer on it — will prevent accidents. I don’t have a problem with that. But I don’t want to waste the taxpayers’ money on anything that’s not working. Evidently the speed is the culprit here. We have to get people to slow down on that crooked road.”

In other business Tuesday the BMA:

•Approved the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of liquor by the drink (LBD) within the town. Mount Carmel voters approved liquor by the drink in a referendum held in November by a vote of 1,176 to 962.

The BMA also approved the first reading of an ordinance establishing the hours for beer sales within the town to coincide with the hours of LBD sales as regulated by the state. Frost withdrew a section of that ordinance from consideration, however.

The withdrawn section would eliminate a ban on beer sales on several residential streets zoned for business within 400 feet of churches, schools, parks and other public meeting places. Frost said more research must be completed on that section of the ordinance before it is ready for consideration.

•Tabled a budget amendment ordinance for up to $7,000 to purchase a new announcement sign for the front of City Hall. The former sign that announced city meetings and other civic events is worn out. Frost said he looked at three possible replacements ranging from $5,000 to $7,000. That cost includes installation of a brick base.

Alderman Leann Debord suggested using the library announcement sign that isn’t currently utilized, for the next month, and for board members to ask members of the community if they think $7,000 for a sign is a good investment.

A motion to table the budget amendment for 30 days and buy new letters for the library sign was approved 6-1 with Hale opposed.

•Voted 3-4 in defeating the second and final reading of an ordinance that would have changed the BMA meeting date from the fourth Tuesday of each month to the fourth Thursday of each month. Last month, the first reading was approved 4-3 with Debord, Wolfe and Wanda Davidson each stating they had a conflict with the Thursday meeting date. On Tuesday, Alderman Eugene Christian voted against the change as well.

•Approved the 2011-12 annual audit, which was presented to the BMA by certified public accountant Mickey Ellis, who gave the town an unqualified opinion, or “clean opinion.” Ellis told the BMA that means the town received a “good report card.”

Ellis said there was one “minor” negative finding, in that they couldn’t locate some credit card receipts. He noted that city hall has already taken steps to make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.

For the 2011-12 fiscal year, revenues exceeded expenditures by about $500,000. Ellis said Mount Carmel ended the 2011-12 fiscal year with about $13 million in net assets, about $3 million in debt and about $10 million total assets.

Ellis said the fiscal shape of the town as of July 30, 2012, is “solid, good, and headed in the right direction.”

•Heard a report from Frost recognizing local resident Nealy Parker Stroup, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 18. Frost presented Stroup with a dozen roses on behalf of the city.

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