In 1994, Johnson City became one of the first jurisdictions in Tennessee to develop a traffic calming program for neighborhood streets. This popular program has grown to many neighborhoods throughout the city. Citizen input has always been the central emphasis of the program; citizens must pursue traffic calming devices in their neighborhood or no action will be taken.
Traffic calming utilizes physical changes to a street to force motorists to drive in a manner appropriate for a neighborhood. Residents often complain that they are afraid to walk along the streets in their neighborhood (even in neighborhoods where there are sidewalks) or allow their children to play in the front yard for fear that a vehicle that is moving too fast could leave the roadway. Some neighborhoods also have benefited from a reduction of through traffic.
Traffic calming is not a program to promote children playing in the street. Anyone near the road at any time assumes some risk from an errant vehicle, even in neighborhoods where traffic calming devices have been installed. Managing those risks and maintaining a heightened awareness of vehicles along the street can produce a more livable environment inside neighborhoods.
Efforts are being made at the Planning Commission level to calm traffic without the need for retrofitting traffic calming into a neighborhood after it has been completed. By using preplanned traffic calming, a developer has more options than are available in established neighborhoods. The current programs includes two measures. The most popular, due to the greater flexibility of placement, is speed humps. The second, which is limited to intersection placement, is the traffic circle. Both devices have been shown to reduce speeds and/or traffic volumes through neighborhoods.
Detailed information on the parameters and steps for traffic calming and the necessary forms are available in PDF format by choosing from the files below.
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