Several residents from the Ridgewood subdivision addressed the Jasper City Council on May 8, telling council members of their concerns due to speeders and drivers running stop signs in their neighborhood. Joe Matthews, the city’s public works director said he has studied the issue and presented several ideas for solving the problem to the council last week.
Matthews said Ridgebrook Drive, which is the road causing the most concern, is a narrow road, and he suggested constructing a center line with reflectors on the roadway.
“We can do this ourselves,” he said. “The reflectors would cause traffic to slow some when tires hit them.”
Matthews also suggested placing plastic rumble strips before the two sets of stop signs on the road and freshening up paint in the area, including a new stop bar at each of the stop signs.
“We want to do all we can to create an area where people will actually stop there,” Matthews said.
Speed tables may be needed in the area, Matthews said. The council would have to approve that action due to the cost of two speed tables ($5,000) and a current city moratorium on the structures. A public hearing on the issue would also have to be held before the addition of any speed humps.
“We could have the hearing either here at city hall or at a residence in the neighborhood,” Matthews said. “If speed tables are needed, then we would come back to you to determine if that is what you want to do.”
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Jasper City Council, Matthews also requested permission from the council for Mayor Sonny Posey to be able to purchase a used, sport utility vehicle for the public works department with money available from the city’s recent capital outlay loan. Matthews said the vehicle would not exceed $15,000, which would allow the city to buy it locally.
“We would like to transfer that to the police department now and also give them $5,000 to equip it with lights and a police package,” Matthews said. “This would provide the police department with an additional vehicle so they can have a traffic car in the fleet.”
Matthews said the traffic vehicle could be used in subdivisions and areas of the city that have significant traffic issues.
Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe said she was thankful for the generous gift from the public works department. She said the traffic vehicle would be equipped with radar and a camera system and used specifically to deter traffic violators.
“We will look at statistics around the city and determine what days and times we have the most accidents, and put an officer out there to on a different shift to help solve these problems,” Rowe said.
Rowe said the police department will also maintain a list of areas where speeders have been deemed a constant problem and concentrate the vehicle in those areas. She said the vehicle would be marked.
“I believe the vehicle itself is a deterrent to speeders when it is marked,” she said. “I think the more visible the better.”
Sandra Guthrie, a resident of the Ridgewood subdivision, said she appreciated the city working on the traffic issues in her neighborhood.
“We’ve just been concerned that someone is going to get hurt,” she said. “The extra police presence has helped.”