City Council backing buy of 20 radar speed signs
by Rachel Miller
August 01, 2013 11:23 PM | 4290 views | 5 5 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The purchase of 20 radar speed signs would cost $79,500 and the funds for the project would come from the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
The purchase of 20 radar speed signs would cost $79,500 and the funds for the project would come from the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
MARIETTA — A City Council majority supports dotting area roads with electronic signs that display a driver’s speed in an effort to guilt or shock speeders into slowing down.

After months of searching for traffic-calming devices and overwhelming requests from residents for speed humps, the council will make a final decision Aug. 14 about purchasing 20 radar speed signs for $79,500 using the 2011 special purpose local option sales tax.

Councilman Johnny Sinclair, the lone opposition to the purchase, believes 20 signs is excessive. Sinclair recommended starting with five, especially since the council was willing to sign off on the purchases without a list of where the signs are needed.

Councilman Anthony Coleman asked staff to create a list of streets that the Marietta Police Department suggests targeting.

Councilman Grif Chalfant said he supported the purchase and could name at least five locations that would be perfect, including Arden Drive and Longwood Drive in southwest Marietta off Powder Springs Street.

Most drivers on these streets, Chalfant said, do not realize how much speed they are gaining on hills and will respond to the radar signs.

“Some of those streets just cry out for people to be aware of how fast they are going,” he said. “Most people want to obey the law.”

Sinclair compared the radar signs to types of pedestrian crossings that use “flashing lights to remind people how fast they are going.”

Efforts to install those types of warning signals have been shot down by the council because of claims drivers will still speed, Sinclair said.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said he believes speeders will slow down because the radar signs instill a “presence by the city and police force.”

Tumlin said the machines might be an eyesore, but the unattractiveness is outweighed by the public safety purpose.

“I think (radar speed signs) bring a lot of peace of mind to a neighborhood,” Tumlin said.

Speeding record

The signs are the latest in safety technology that is proven to slow down speeders, according a report by Dan Conn, the director of the Public Works department.

The report provided what the public works department considers to be proof that the radar speed signs reduce traffic speeds, especially high speeds.

The city installed an electronic sign on Church Street as part of a median improvement project at Margaret Street, funded by WellStar.

The intersection without a radar speed sign was monitored for a week at the beginning of February 2012, then again the following week after the unit was placed there.

The report stated that during the week without the radar sign, half of the drivers were traveling between 41 and 50 mph. But once the sign was installed, 81 percent of the drivers were going at or below the posted speed limit of 35 mph.

City staff told the council another benefit is that the new signs would allow the city to download data to track peak times that speeding occurs on major roads.

The electronic signs are an alternative to speed humps, which the Public Works Department does not place on hills or curvy roads where the speed hump would not be visible to the driver.

The city already owns four radar speed signs, three of which were donated. One was purchased with funds from the 2005 SPLOST and is at Polk Street between the 120 Loop and Winn Street.

The signs are moveable, which allows for flexibility, but because the large units are mounted to the ground, staff recommended not moving them more than every six months to a year.

Sinclair questioned whether the uncomfortable feeling of being caught speeding by the radar sign will last as drivers pass the same unit over a long period of time.

There is $385,000 left of the $400,000 earmarked in the SPLOST traffic-calming fund.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Steve Morris
August 06, 2013
How much are Speed Bumps?
patient observer
August 02, 2013
So now we're just trying to find new, inventive ways to waste money collected from taxpayers by SPLOST? There are more than enough of those eyesore signs around town and posting them on every downhill slope (gravity still prevails!)is disingenuous. I'm with Sinclair on this one....
copper thief
August 02, 2013
What's the scrap value of these signs, and could we just donate that amount to MUST rather than spending money on the signs and having them stolen by druggies and sold as scrap? THe result will be the same but the cost to taxpayers will be must less
i have a speedometer
August 02, 2013
I have a working speedometer, but if the city could put up some signs telling me how much gasoline is left in my car's gas tank I would really appreciate that since my fuel gauge has not worked in 8 years.
Wait a sec
August 02, 2013
The problem with neighborhood traffic is typically the manner in which the neighborhood residents drive their cars with zero regard for their neighbors.

Our "ME FIRST, YOU NEVER (FOR ALL I CARE)" approach to driving is due to our driver training emphasizing "defensive" driving: Everyone is trying to get you, so it's you versus everyone. Stick it to them before they stick it to you.

We instead need to teach "cooperative driving" or "community driving" so we can get past this societal plague of behavior problems such as 45 mph driving in neighborhoods, people who refuse to merge or who weave, people who think their phone is more important than everyone else on the roads, and most especially all this road rage that is such a predictable outcome of the defensiveness inexplicably taught by our driver training programs.

So what do we do to get by for now until we can correct poor behavior resulting from generations of incorrect driver education?

I say we rework our roads to give all our city neighborhoods one way in, one way out for cars.

Cut off all the other exits so cars cannot pass.

If you live in a city neighborhood and you want to go to Home Depot, you will just have to exit out the main exit of your neighborhood and return back home that way too, or walk or bike and use the short path that will have been left open for pedestrians and bicycles, but not for cars and the reckless people who drive them in what they believe to be a self-important manner with zero regard for any living being, ironically including themselves carrying the highest risk above all others: Who is always in the car for your bad driving and is guaranteed to be in a crash you cause? YOU ARE!
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