News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007

Decatur council moves to ease traffic congestion
Resolution establishes Wimberly Drive as right-turn-in, right-turn-out street

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

A measure designed to ease traffic congestion on a major retail thoroughfare in Decatur received approval Monday, but not without objections from a city councilman and a business owner.

The council approved 4-1 a resolution that designates Wimberly Drive Southwest as a right-turn-in, right-turn-out street where it intersects Spring Avenue.

Although Councilman Ronny Russell, who represents the district, said the changes have been discussed in the Planning Department for more than a year, Councilman Ray Metzger asked to have the measure tabled to research it further.

"My next-door neighbor owns a business on that road," Metzger said. "There should be right and left turns allowed there, but not straight through traffic. This will cut the traffic down 75 percent in that district."

Steve Garner, who owns an insurance firm on Wimberly Drive, said he is concerned with how the change would affect access to his business. He said he didn't know about the council's plans to change the street until he read about it in The Daily.

Garner wasn't allowed to discuss his opposition Monday. The council allows public discussion on agenda items only during work sessions, which are held one week before each business meeting.

"I'm disappointed I wasn't able to speak at today's meeting," Garner said. "And I understand they have their rules, but I'm more upset that I didn't know about it beforehand."

Garner said he spoke with business owners, including managers of a restaurant and a home improvement store. He said only one of eight businesses that he spoke with was aware of the change.

Decatur Police Chief Ken Collier said the Sims Street connector with Fairgrounds Road would likely open this week, giving drivers an alternate route to the businesses on Wimberly Drive.

Council President Billy Jackson said temporary signs would help inform drivers of the Sims Street connector.

"The overall impact will be to help with traffic flow and increase safety," Jackson said. "That's what we have to look at. I apologize for any inconvenience, but police, engineering and planning all endorsed it. We're creating an overall better traffic flow."

Garner, who spoke to some of the councilmen after the meeting, said clients who reach his business by traveling north on Spring Avenue won't know they will need to turn left on Sims Street and then turn right on Wimberly Drive in order to reach his business.

The council didn't discuss what day the changes would be implemented. Councilman David Bolding suggested placing signs warning of the change like the city currently does when it adds stop signs to intersections.

Councilman Gary Hammon said the city would keep the wiring for traffic lights at Wimberly Drive and Spring Avenue, so the change could be easily reversed if it doesn't improve or hinders the traffic-flow situation.

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