Speed tables could be installed on Arbutus Avenue

Matthew Lane • Jul 20, 2013 at 8:38 PM

KINGSPORT — Traffic could soon be calming down along Arbutus Avenue.

Two traffic calming devices could be installed along Arbutus later this year, according to Kingsport’s traffic engineer Tim Elsea. The devices being talked about are speed tables, similar to these installed along Watauga Street, Truxton Drive and Shadyside Drive.

Elsea said the devices are being installed in accordance to Kingsport’s Traffic Management Plan, approved by city leaders about five years ago, that include rules and guidelines for installing traffic calming devices (such as speed bumps and raised crosswalks) on streets with speeders and high traffic.

Under the regulations, a study process is initiated by a petition of at least five residents.

“We’ve had several requests to look at this roadway over the years and we finally got a petition with enough signatures on it,” Elsea said. “In the past, (Arbutus) did not meet the criteria, but then this time, it did after we got the traffic counts and put the plan together.”

In order for a road to be considered for traffic calming measures, it must have at least 1,000 vehicles a day and the 85th percentile speed has to be greater than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

Elsea said traffic department officials in April counted the traffic in two spots along Arbutus (near Blue Bell Drive and between Delrose Street and Shady Lane).

“Shady and Delrose didn’t meet the speed (requirement), but Blue Bell had 1,479 vehicles and the speed was 35 miles per hour,” Elsea said. “The posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour, so it met the criteria.”

Now that the road has met the criteria, Kingsport held a public information meeting last week letting residents know what is being proposed and the next step will be for the residents along Arbutus to approve the speed tables.

Elsea said more than 40 letters were sent to property owners along Arbutus and Blue Bell. Under TMP regulations, Kingsport has to receive 30 percent “No” votes from the property owners to not do the traffic calming measure. Property owners who fail to return a ballot count as a “Yes” vote, Elsea said.

Kingsport has requested the letters be returned by Aug. 10.

If approved, the city would install speed tables — likely in the fall — along Arbutus, between Delrose and the lower end of Blue Bell. Cost of each device is approximately $2,000.

Traffic calming devices have been installed on Watauga, Shadyside, Bellingham Drive, Truxton, Thornton Drive and Pendragon Road. Three years ago, devices were proposed for three streets in Preston Forest — Essex Drive, Suffolk Street and Sussex Drive — but the residents voted down the measure.

However, traffic calming devices are back in the works for at least one of those streets — Suffolk — with the proposal being sponsored by Alderman Jantry Shupe, who lives in Preston Forest. A study process can also be initiated if at least one member of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is a sponsor.

Elsea said the city is looking to do a couple of devices along Suffolk.

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