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Mount Carmel removes speed sign from notorious curve on Hammond for two-week trial

Jeff Bobo • May 29, 2013 at 10:36 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — An electronic sign that warns motorist how fast they’re driving on a dangerous section of Hammond Avenue in Mount Carmel will be removed for two weeks as an experiment to see if motorists have gotten the message to slow down.

The curve at the 800 block of Hammond Avenue is notorious for accidents, especially when the road is wet.

Mayor Larry Frost proposed during Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting to place a permanent electronic speed warning sign in that area that will flash when vehicles are exceeding the 30 mph speed limit as they approach the dangerous curve.

The cost of the sign was estimated at $2,599.

Following a discussion, however, the majority of board members decided to postpone action on the permanent speed indicating sign and take down the temporary speed indicating sign for two weeks to see what happens.

Alderman Frances Frost, who opposed removing the temporary sign, said she hopes there isn’t an accident there during the next two weeks.

In December, a mother and two children were injured in a head on collision on that section of Hammond Avenue. The accident was blamed on speed and wet road conditions.

That was the 11th accident on that stretch of road in 2012, prompting local officials to take action.

Aside from increasing police presence there, the town placed the temporary sign that displays a southbound motorist’s speed and flashes if the vehicle is speeding.

The BMA also considered some other permanent steps such as adding rumble strips or installing an adhesive material to the road that improves grip.

Those ideas were rejected, however, partly due to cost and partly due to the fact that the current steps appear to be working.

There hasn’t been an accident in that spot since December.

Alderman Carl Wolfe was opposed to the permanent sign and recommended taking down the temporary sign for two weeks while maintaining intensive police radar patrol.

“That’s a lot of money to put up a sign showing the speed limit,” Wolfe said. “If you don’t give me a ticket, that’s not going to slow me down. That just shows me how fast I’m going through there.”

Wolfe added, “We need to run some radar out there to show that we can stop you for speeding. ... I’ll respect a (speed enforcement) camera out there if I go through it. I know if I don’t slow down they’re going to send somebody a (citation). Probably me. I’m just saying, just because we’ve got a sign up that shows 38 or 40 mph, that doesn’t slow people down. They’ll get used to it knowing they’re not going to get anything (tickets) out of it.”

Wolfe said common sense should dictate to motorists that if they round that curve too fast, especially when it’s wet, they’re going to slide.

Frost noted, however, that most of the accidents there have involved inexperienced drivers. The driver who caused the head on collision was 18 years old.

The BMA voted 4-2 Tuesday in favor of removing the temporary sign for two weeks. Aldermen Frost and Vice Mayor Paul Hale voted no and Frost abstained.

The BMA will discuss the status of that curve again at next month’s meeting.

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