TRAFFIC ISSUES IN ST ELMO

From Scott Noll, our liaison with Public Works and the City Traffic Engineer

[Traffic questions have come up a number of times on the neighbors email list, so Scott wrote this response that hopefully answers most of them. If not, we'll add info as needed...]

I understand there are a lot of questions and concerns about the traffic coming through St. Elmo.  In fact, that was the reason I first started working with the Community Association of Historic St. Elmo (read: neighborhood association).  For those new to St. Elmo or for those that didn’t already know, there is a great need for an additional north/south route in and out of Chattanooga for those living/working in North Georgia.  There have been steps made in the past but, for various reasons, in the end nothing has been done.  As a result of the traffic on St. Elmo Ave, TN and AL Avenues have borne some of the overflow.
 
Stuart Wood and I have been meeting with the head of Public Works and the City Traffic Engineer on behalf of the neighborhood association consistently for the past three years or so.  Our goal is to present the needs and requests of the neighborhood to the City and to bring any requests from them back to the neighborhood.  We had our quarterly meeting a week ago this past Friday.   
 
Here are a few thoughts based on questions and comments I have seen recently on the email list.
 
The way the City classifies TN Ave, it is not eligible for “speed bumps.”  Speed continues to be an issue as does illegal passing, the intersection at FL Ave, the intersection at W. 47th St, the intersection at W 40th  and the inconsistent (or lack of) striping.
 
-          The realignment at FL and TN Avenues may be a project in the years to come.  I do know that they have done some preliminary engineering work and have come up with a basic layout.  This would help slow traffic as it transitions from TN Ave to the slower posted speed on FL Ave as well as keep people from moving to the center of the lane as the navigate the bend in the road.
-          We do expect to see a change at the intersection of TN Ave and W. 47th in the next few months.  The ultimate goal is to keep cars from veering too far towards the middle of the lane, to slow traffic down a little as cars navigate the bend in the road and to lessen the # of potential accidents there.
-          The City has long had plans in place to add a roundabout at the intersection of TN Ave and W. 40th (Grafe Studio; cemetery entrance).  We are currently on the waiting list and I expect we’ll see that come to fruition in the next few years.  As far as roundabouts go, they really wouldn’t have to do much construction to complete the project and make a major improvement.
-          We have requested that the striping be continued south on TN.  I am not sure if this will be completed or not because of the way the City classifies TN Ave.
 
As an aside, if I lived on TN Ave, I would park my car on the east side of the street where parking is legal.  That would go a long way to curbing speeding and passing in my opinion.  Use your own discretion, of course.  There are obvious risks to car and person and I understand why many of you might balk at this idea.
 
As for roundabouts and speed bumps on St. Elmo Ave, that would most likely never happen.  First, b/c of the traffic volume.  Second b/c there is no realistic need (the City and State rarely use methods like that to limit volume or control speed).  Lastly b/c of the designation of St. Elmo Ave (State route).  We did request that the pedestrian paddle be replaced in front of Mr. T’s, but due to the expense and the likelihood that it would be knocked down again the City is going to keep the few paddles they have left for other areas.
 
We have had some good success in improving the situation in St. Elmo over the last few years.  Based on my experience, the head of Public Works and the City Traffic Engineer have been great to work with and quick to help when they can.  We have seen:
 
-          Traffic calming on AL Ave (speed bumps)
-          Striping along the northern half of TN Ave
-          Intersection realignment at TN and St. Elmo Avenues
-          Crosswalk and flashers at both Mr. Ts and at the playground
-          The addition of a speed camera on St. Elmo Ave
-          Changes to striping at TN Ave and W. 37th near B of A and Walgreens (for westbound traffic trying to turn south onto TN Ave; think CCS traffic)
-          Repair of damage to the playground
-          Materials for the building of the gazebo and park at AL Ave and W. 41st
-          The latest improvement - TN Ave and Broad Street where they liked our request to add “cat tracks” striping to help keep everyone in their respective lanes as they veer south onto TN Ave or North onto Broad St.
 
While there is still a lot to do, we have had made positive steps.  Keep in mind that the City has a limited budget and a long list of other requests from other neighborhoods and institutions.  If you choose to contact a City representative, as is surely your right, I would encourage you to keep these things in mind and to make realistic requests.  Stuart and I would be happy to directly communicate requests/suggestions on your behalf as well.
 
Upcoming work and requests:
 
-          I plan to contact our area Lieutenant to ask for increased radar along St. Elmo, TN and FL Avenues.  Depending on her response, I might ask for help in pressing that need.
-          Request for repaving on St. Elmo Ave due to degradation of past (shoddy) work and heavy truck volume
-          Request for changes in striping along St. Elmo Ave to prohibit passing
-          Repaving of streets behind Incline (Everett, Fairoak, Old Mtn, Roy, etc.)
 
Requests from City Traffic Engineer
 
-          Does everyone still like / use the flashers and crosswalks at the playground and Mr. T’s?
-          For those with children nearing driving age, did you know about this program: http://www.chattanooga.gov/Public_Works/70_Driversed.htm ?
 
One last thing: not everyone in St. Elmo has the same ideas and desires for traffic controlling measures.  I have actually gotten a few complaints about how the work we have done has slowed or altered a given person’s commute or route.  I have also had people tell me that they don’t want anymore speed bumps in the neighborhood.
 
So, with all of that in mind, we will continue to present your requests to those individuals at the City level who can enact change.  The State is a “whole ‘nother animal.”  If you would like to help on that front, let me know.
 
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to send them my way.  I am no expert, but I am willing to spend some time trying to help.  I’m sure I have left out a few things from this email, but I’m tired of typing!
 
For the Parks and Infrastructure Sub-Committee
 
Scott