By Karen Middleton
For The News Courier
Stop signs might replace traffic signals at four residential intersections as a city cost-cutting measure.
Monday, Public Works Manager James Rich and Dolph Bradford outlined a plan to eliminate traffic signals at Madison and Bryan streets; Fifth Avenue and Sanders Street, and Pryor and Sanders streets.
“We’ve been studying these intersections for months and getting traffic counts,” said Rich. “Utilities say that these signals need replacing with replacements costing from $15,000 to $20,000 a piece. Now, we are paying from $1,500 to $2,000 each year to maintain them. We think this is the right way to go.”
Rich didn’t ask the City Council for immediate action on a resolution but asked them to introduce it at Monday’s meeting to give residents in the neighborhoods affected by the changes to respond.
Under the plan the intersection at Madison and Bryan streets would become a four-way stop; the intersection at Fifth Avenue and Sanders Street would become a four-way stop, and the intersection at Pryor and Sanders streets would be a two-way stop with Sanders being the stop street.
“I don’t think the traveling public will be affected by these changes, but we wanted to introduce them so the public is aware and have an opportunity to express their concerns,” said Rich. “They could contact the city through the mayor’s office.”
Council President Jimmy Gill said he would have the measures put back on the Oct. 22 agenda.
In other council business:
• Micah Cochran and James Rich of the Public Works Department made a presentation showing that it was time for a new aerial map of the city and county. The city is part of a consortium that benefits from the aerial mapping and shares in different percentages in the cost. Those departments using the aerial mapping are the city of Athens; Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority; Athens Utilities; Emergency Management Agency; E-911; county Revenue Department in tax assessing. The last aerial mapping was done in 2009 and several new subdivisions and roads have been built since then. The city’s cost on the mapping project is from $35,000 to $40,000 down from the 2009 cost of $60,000. Rich said he would bring the matter back to be voted upon at the Oct. 22 meeting.
• The council suspended rules to readopt the Municipal Lodging Tax, which passed unanimously with one member absent, Councilwoman Mignon Bowers.
• The council accepted Charter Communications as the low bidder for the city’s part of Internet services shared on the city’s and county’s fiber optic lines. The cost is $1,750 per month to be split with the Limestone County Commission. Of the city’s $875 per month, half of that – or $437.50 – will be paid by Athens Utilities.
• The council approved agreements with CSX Railroad for water line construction on McClellan Street and sewer line construction on Hobbs Street.
• The council heard a recommendation from citizen Ralph Diggins that they wait until the new council is seated in November to pass the first increase in city sales tax since 1975 and to hold work sessions with the new council members so they would understand the necessity for the increase and also to publicize in a line-item report where the new revenue would be allocated. The City is proposing raising sales tax by one cent to nine percent.
• Council President Jimmy Gill said he would ask for a decision at the first meeting in November on a new Athens City Board of Education member to replace Gary Hill, who recently resigned. Gill said the city would accept applications and would also review school board applications already on file.
• The council approved $295.76 in travel and education expenses for Water Services.