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April 17, 2014

City considers 'calming circle' for traffic

— If you live on a street that is busy or frequented by speeders, you’ve probably yelled at a passing car.

An Athens department head is proposing the city calm such motorists in one area and consider doing so in others.

Public Works Director James Rich this week proposed installing what is known as a “calming circle” at the intersection of Pryor and Malone streets in Athens. Various types of traffic-calming devises are used in Decatur, Huntsville and Madison and many other cities throughout the country. The city already has a roundabout on Lindsay Lane.

What Rich has in mind at Malone and Pryor is a small, curbed circle in the middle of the intersection that would be landscaped. Circles works by preventing motorists from barreling straight through an intersection.

“They are a tool to enhance neighborhoods and assure there is no speeding issue,” Rich said.

Rich shared the calming circle idea with City Council members during their premeeting work session Monday. Council members did not discuss the matter or vote to approve it. It is just an idea at this point, but one Rich would like to see implemented in various neighborhoods throughout the city. Rich said the circle at Malone and Pryor would cost about $18,000, with $10,000 of that estimate going to relocate two power poles and a fire hydrant. The city would have to budget the money, if the City Council agrees it should be installed.

Pryor traffic

City Councilman Wayne Harper raised the issue of traffic calming when the city removed the traffic signal at the intersection of Pryor and Sanders streets. He said people in the neighborhood were worried about speeders.

City employees had studied the intersection with counters that not only counted the number of vehicles but also detected how fast motorists were driving and whether they were driving motorcycles, school buses or passenger sedans, Rich said.

Over a two or three-year period studies have not shown a speeding problem, he said. But, there are reasons besides speed to install a calming circle, such as lowering traffic volume or preventing cars from stacking up at intersections. The latter was the reason for installing the calming circle, or roundabout, at Lindsay Lane.

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