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Dear Decaturish – Is it ‘traffic calming’ or ‘traffic enhancing’ on Coventry Road?

Crime and public safety Decatur Editor's Pick Trending

Dear Decaturish – Is it ‘traffic calming’ or ‘traffic enhancing’ on Coventry Road?

Phase one traffic-calming improvements on Coventry Road in Decatur include repaving the road, repairing the sidewalk and adding two raised crosswalks. Photo courtesy of the city of Decatur.

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Dear Decaturish,

The city of Decatur’s website announces “Coventry Road Traffic Calming Moves Forward.”

As a 17-year resident of Coventry Road, this should be good news. Traffic volume and speed on Coventry Rd between Scott Blvd and the railroad tracks, especially during rush hours, is high. Coventry Road is really a quiet residential street, but many drivers think of it as a thoroughfare. Cut-through traffic from the Emory area to Scott Blvd is a real problem. So the idea of traffic-calming is appealing: perhaps more and better speed humps or raised walkways, a traffic circle or two, maybe some stop signs at intersections.

I was disappointed to find out that the city of Decatur’s “traffic calming” proposal for Coventry had no additional speed humps, no traffic circles and no stop signs.  

What the proposal does have is the elimination of parking on one side of Coventry and the creation of dedicated 10- or 11-foot striped travel lanes. Besides being a big inconvenience for residents of Coventry and their guests, eliminating parking on one side of the road leaves more room for cars to travel in. I am no traffic engineer, but it is commonly known that drivers tend to go faster when given a wider lane to travel in. It is bizarre that this is being sold to the community as traffic-calming, when in fact it is just the opposite. What the city of Decatur is proposing to do is to turn Coventry Road into the thoroughfare that many drivers already think it is. 

The two raised walkways that are proposed at Merrill Ave and North Parkwood Road come at the expense of the two existing speed humps. One of the speed humps to be removed is located on the first block of Coventry between Scott Blvd and Chelsea Drive. If this speed hump is removed, cars traveling fast on Scott that turn onto Coventry can continue going fast on Coventry until they reach the proposed raised crosswalk at Merrill. There will be nothing, not even parked cars, to slow them down. Drivers will also have a clear, unimpeded shot to speed to Scott from Merrill to try to make a green light. Similarly, cars will tend to go faster on the rest of Coventry without parked cars on both sides of the road to impede them.

The city’s plan will essentially turn our street into a main thoroughfare rather than the residential street it is. It will not increase safety, but it may lower property values. The city needs to seriously re-think its plan.

The plan should concentrate on lowering car speeds through additional speed humps or raised crosswalks, particularly on the first block of Coventry. It should consider adding four-way stops at cross streets, not just raised crosswalks. It should also consider a traffic circle or two. There is much more room for traffic circles where Chelsea Drive and Kathryn Avenue meet Coventry than at other traffic circles built in the area. Even if you do not live near or travel on Coventry Road, please support common sense traffic-calming for our residential streets.

David Wasserman, Coventry Road resident

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