After asking for the city’s help in slowing down traffic along their busy street, residents along Jefferson Drive have taken matters into their own hands.
Bright red signs asking motorists to “Drive like your kids live here,” adorn more than a dozen yards along the quiet residential street north of Bonita Parkway.
Jefferson Drive resident Jodi Dixon says the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit along the road is too high, and worries that it puts pets and children in the neighborhood in danger.
“We have children and pets whom we care deeply about,” she said. “Unfortunately, the 30-mile-per-hour [speed] puts all of us at high risk for a fatal accident. The speed limit is way too fast for a residential street such as ours.”
Dixon said the issue became worse when the street was paved about six or eight weeks ago, making a smoother path for those who already drive too fast.
“When you add the additional hazard of all of the deer we have in our neighborhood, it’s honestly just a matter of time before a serious disaster occurs,” she added.
Tom Roland says the complaint is not a new one. Roland, who has lived on the street for 25 years, said the issue has been raised over the years, but to no avail.
“It was really frustrating because we lived on a street where our children couldn’t play in the front yard without us worrying. I’d even put cones out to try to slow down the traffic,” he said.
Roland has even had to bury a dog who escaped through the front door one day.
“Anyone that’s been here for any amount of time has lost a dog on Jefferson Drive,” he said.
Like Dixon, Roland would like to see the speed limit reduced to around 20 miles-an-hour as well as a three-way stop sign erected at the corner of Jefferson and Monitor drives.
“It’s potentially a dangerous situation,” he said. “Fortunately, no one has been hurt so far.”
Both city Traffic Engineer Sara Lock and the city’s Traffic and Parking Committee, a committee comprised of representatives from the city’s police, fire, public works and planning departments, are examining the issue, according to Lock.
“The traffic data has been collected, analyzed and the outcomes and recommendations have been sent to the Traffic and Parking Committee,” Lock said in an email.
The committee met on June 19 and voted to provide targeted enforcement from the Hendersonville Police Department “during timeframes that have been isolated based upon the traffic data analysis.”
“The traffic data will be collected again shortly thereafter to see if the issue has improved,” said Lock. “There will be a re-evaluation of the issue with the new traffic data at that time.”
According to data discussed during the June 19 meeting, the average speed along the road is 31.7 miles per hour, which is considered an acceptable rate. The 85th percentile speed is 36 miles-per-hour - less than seven miles over the speed limit, and the maximum speed recorded was 56 miles-per-hour.
Lock says that neither the speed limit reduction nor the stop sign addition are viable options right now, citing federal guidelines.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) outlines the requirements that must be met in order to make either of those changes, and the criteria hasn’t been met, she said.
Lock also noted that there has been one crash reported for Jefferson Drive within the last three years. It was noted in the report that the driver may have experienced a medical event which caused the accident, she added.
Dixon says she’d like the city to look more closely at why speed limits in residential neighborhoods seem to be inconsistent.
“Some are 20, some 25 and some 30,” she said. “Nathan Forest just around the corner from me is 25. And how can Jefferson be 30; the same as Cumberland Hills which is a major road with double yellow lines?”
Dixon is also asking for the city to consider erecting two of the yellow “Slow, we love our kids” signs that dot many local neighborhoods.
She and her neighbors plan to express their concerns at the city’s next Public Works Committee meeting on July 28. The committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. For more information about the Public Works Committee, call Hendersonville City Hall at 615-822-1000 or go to the city’s website at www.hvilletn.org.