May 11, 2006
Council Votes To Eliminate Several Of City’s 4-Way Stops
Leave it to a former highway patrolman to tackle traffic signs as one of his first objectives as the new mayor of Memphis. Retired state trooper Roger Gosney took on the city’s high number of intersections with three- and four-way stop signs at the May 4th meeting of the Memphis City Council.
Gosney unveiled a list of nine intersections with such traffic controls as compiled by City Marshal Steve Snodgrass under Gosney’s direction.
“Believe it or not, these stop signs were something I was hearing a lot about from the public,” stated Gosney. “I think we owe it to the community to eliminate some of these redundant stops to help with gas mileage and just give the citizens a break.”
The mayor asked the council to consider removing a selected few stop signs from the list to provide a starting point for his plan.
Alderman Lucas Remley noted he had heard similar public sentiment to that reported by Gosney, noting he had received negative public comments when the city installed new stop signs at intersections.
Historically that move has been made as an effort to provide better speed control. However street superintendent Roy Monroe noted that numerous public studies have revealed stop signs are not effective tools at controlling speed.
While the state’s transportation department doesn’t specifically address the issue, many other state traffic manuals refrain from the practice of using stop signs to control speed. For example the Ohio Department of Transportation official Traffic Engineering Manual states “Generally multi-way stop installations should be used sparingly because of the significant increases in delays and operating costs that can result from requiring all of the vehicles using the intersection to stop. Also, unnecessary stops, when the intersection is clear of conflicting movements, can lead to general disrespect for stop signs.”
Alderman Chris Feeney agreed with Monroe’s assessment, adding that unnecessary stop signs simply were punishing the law-abiding citizens that obey the traffic laws.
“Come on, are these stop signs really slowing people down? He asked. “The only people really effected by these signs are the ones who actually stop at them. The people that are speeding down these streets obviously aren’t too worried about the traffic laws.”
Alderman Ron Gardner stated he would be in favor of eliminating some of the stop signs on the list but pointed out that there were a few of the intersections he wasn’t totally comfortable changing.
The three aldermen agreed to designate three intersections to have stop signs removed later this month.
Brian Brush was the lone dissenting vote. He stated he was in favor of leaving the intersections as they are, pointing out the need for additional speed control.
“Maybe they don’t stop at the signs, but at least they slow down,” Brush stated. “I’m not comfortable eliminating any of these signs until we see improved traffic enforcement by our city police department.”
KMEM reporter Rick Fisher offered some public input on the issue, pointing out his concerns, highlighting public safety, particularly for children that could be put at danger by speeding traffic.
Ultimately the council voted to remove stop signs on Jefferson Street at the Main Street intersection, giving the Jefferson Street traffic the right-of-way. Stop signs will be removed from Market Street at the North Street intersection four-way stop, allowing the Market Street traffic the right-of-way. The third effected intersection is the four-way stop at Missouri and Maple where the signs will be removed from Missouri Street to give its motorists the right-of-way.
The council agreed to delay the proposal until May 18th to allow time for public input. Citizens are encouraged to contact the mayor or alder-men to voice their opinion.
Other intersections under consideration for future changes include the four-way stops at the Jefferson and Market intersection; Market and Mety intersection; Lovers Lane and Hardman intersection; and three-way stops at Watkins and Mety; Huntington and Knott; and Lindell and Ruth.