South Nashville neighborhoods apply for traffic calming
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Most of the time, Lisa Shadrick loves living in Antioch, but over the years, the area’s need for increased safety standards has grown.
Specifically, traffic problems in Antioch have gotten “exaggerated,” she said, and her concerns started when Shadrick called police after finding a vehicle had crashed through construction barriers into a ditch near her home. Within the next 12 hours, two more accidents followed, including a speeding vehicle that hit a pole and knocked out the power in her neighborhood. At the time, she was home with a newborn infant.
“We were out of power for hours, and I was like, ‘great, I don’t have a way to warm up a bottle,’” said Shadrick.
Since then, she’s feared getting into an accident just leaving her driveway. In the day, cars are using her neighborhood to cut through traffic on Nolensville Road at high speeds, and at night, drag racers do the same. So when she heard that Nashville officials had chosen District 30 for their Traffic Calming Program, Shadrick made sure to go to every public meeting, along with many of her neighbors, all seeking an improved quality of life.
In October, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a $568 million capital spending plan that included $275 million for school and transportation improvements. Within that, $2 million was allotted for traffic calming projects throughout the city to slow down traffic and create safer conditions for neighborhoods like Shadrick’s dealing with large traffic volumes.
“As Nashville continues to grow, traffic is increasing, and many of our residential streets are seeing an increase in speeding and cut through traffic,” said Cortnye Stone, Metro spokesperson for the Nashville Department of Transportation & Multimodal Infrastructure.
“Quality of life and safety are top of mind concerns for the department.”
Over 200 neighborhoods applied and neighborhoods needed to meet certain criteria to be selected. Factors included the street’s history of car crashes, along with data collected on the number of cars speeding through the neighborhood and lack of pedestrian accommodations. Only the highest scoring neighborhoods were chosen, and Metro Nashville officials focused on 24.
Among those 24 is District 30, an area fraught with drag racing, a type of reckless driving that has caused numerous traffic congestion issues and accidents throughout the years.
Since this summer, consultants and district council members have met with residents to allow for public input. These traffic calming sessions have been immensely popular, and in District 30, over a dozen neighbors have regularly met with consultants and council member Sandra Sepulveda to discuss improving the quality of life for Antioch residents.
In one session, residents expressed their concerns with reckless driving and asked what needed to be done with moving the project along.
“We’ve all had mailboxes hit,” said one resident.
Although neighborhood residents were involved in the project design and installation, they now needed to get 70% of the neighborhood on board in order for construction. This would require physically knocking on doors. Only homeowners could sign off on the traffic calming but residents asked that renters be allowed to have a say in the project.
One retired man gladly volunteered to get the signatures, as did Sepulveda.
“I haven’t gone door knocking since the (District 30) election,” she said.
Due to its popularity, metro Nashville officials plan to announce 25 additional calming projects next week, allowing more neighborhoods to apply.
“Neighborhood Traffic Calming is overwhelmingly desired and extremely popular. Residents are concerned about speeding on their residential streets, and the way irresponsible driver behaviors impact safety and quality of life in neighborhoods,” said Stone.
And although Shadrick’s street is not included in the original map for the project, Shadrick says she’ll continue to attend the meetings hoping Metro officials will change their mind.
“I would like not to get hit turning in my driveway with my kid in the car or getting hit walking to my mailbox,” she said.
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