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Does subdivision need speed tables?

A study by Jonesborough authorities revealed no major incidents of drivers speeding through The Meadows subdivision located at the west end of town. But at least one neighborhood resident is adamant there is a problem.
Carol Ripple, who lives on Thistledown Circle, walks through her neighborhood twice a day. It’s a trek, she said, that is often dangerous.
“We have no sidewalks to walk on. We have a bus driver speeding through every day. Our mail carrier speeds through,” Ripple told members of the Jonesborough Traffic Advisory Committee during their Oct. 25 meeting. “When you are walking and you have nowhere to get off of the road, that’s a problem. A couple of people have almost gotten run over in there. That really stirs up concern.”
In the past, Ripple said she has gone so far as to flag down a FedEx delivery driver to chastise him for speeding through the subdivision. Her husband, Ripple added, has done the same to the mailman as well as several subdivision residents.
“We don’t feel like we should have to do that,” she said. “It produces hard feelings in the neighborhood.”
Ripple previously asked the town to consider installing speed tables in the neighborhood to slow down traffic.
That request prompted a study by the town to determine whether such traffic calming devices are, in fact, needed in The Meadows.
“We put down cables to record the volume and speed of traffic,” Town Administrator Bob Browning reported to the committee. “That’s what we use as the initial evaluation of the need for speed tables.”
From Oct. 17-22, three sets of cables were placed within the subdivision — one set on Thistledown Circle, another on Sweetgrass Lane and the third set on Goldenrod Drive.
“On Thistledown, the average speed in there was between 15-20 mph. Those speeds would not justify coming in with speed tables,” Browning said. “The ones on Sweetgrass were a little bit faster than that. They were in the neighborhood of 20-25 mph.”
The set of cables on Goldenrod Drive malfunctioned, according to Browning, and did not record any data.
Although the end result of the study revealed no “major indication of speeding,” Browning admitted speed cables themselves often slow people down.
That, he noted, makes it difficult to get a true picture of just how fast people are traveling through an area.
Ripple agreed.
“When those cables went in, everybody instantly slowed down,” she said, requesting the committee still consider putting in speed tables.
Police Chief Matt Hawkins said it was also hard to patrol the area to get an idea of typical traffic speeds without drivers changing their habits to avoid being ticketed.
After it became obvious officers in marked patrol cars were not going to be able to get a realistic sampling of drivers’ speeds, Hawkins said he used unmarked cruisers in hopes of getting a better idea.
“We put people out there in unmarked units and there was little deviation,” he said. “It’s a difficult place to run traffic enforcement out there.”
Members of the Traffic Advisory Committee agreed to return the cables to the subdivision and leave them there for an extended period of time.
The hope, members concurred, would be that drivers would eventually get used to the cables being there and then would return to their regular driving habits.
Without some sort of proof of a speeding problem, Browning warned against the installation of speed tables.
“It’s really a question of whether or not they are justified,” he said. “There may be as many people in there that don’t want them in that do want them in. We need some kind of justification to move ahead with this.”
For Ripple, the issue comes down to safety.
“We are out here walking, us and our dogs and our children. It’s a safety factor,” Ripple said. “(Speed tables) slow you down and maybe even prevent a terrible accident.”