Speed cushions will be put in the Somerest subdivision in the first instance of the Athens City Council utilizing a new traffic calming program it created in June.

The traffic calming ordinance provision says if a number of citizens in a neighborhood bring a traffic safety issue before Athens Police Floyd Johnson, he can choose to send the issue on to the city's engineering department, who will then look to find a remedy.

The first use of this program was approved by the City Council Monday after citizens in Somerest brought forth concerns of speeding throughout the neighborhood.

City Engineer Michael Griffin said a review found some excessive speeding, so he requested the Council consider one of two options, either add four-way stop signs or speed cushions.

The Council approved the measure unanimously Monday, with Griffin telling The News Courier Tuesday five locations in the Somerest community will have speed cushions installed.

“Speed cushions allow emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks to pass over them without slowing them down,” Griffin said, “but passenger vehicles will have to slow down to get over them.”

Griffin said the engineering department got input from residents from Somerest and looked at the situation from an “engineering standpoint” before making the decision to go with speed cushions.

He said the traffic calming program is taken on a case-by-case basis, and in this instance the streets of the Somerest subdivision are all contained within the neighborhood, so adding the speed cushions will not impact any outside traffic.

Building pad

According to Mayor Ronnie Marks, the City of Athens has received a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority to fund the construction of a building pad encompassing 400,000 square feet.

Once built, the site will be able to accommodate a large industrial structure “if someone chooses to expand or if we recruit a new company for that area,” Marks said.

The grant will cover the costs, with Marks saying the city will occur no expenses.

“It's one of those things that if we build it, they will come,” Councilman Frank Travis said.

The pad will be located at the North Breeding Industrial Park near the new Jimmy Gill Park. Both projects are being built on land that was once a golf course purchased by the city.

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