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story.lead_photo.caption Traffic passes by the Hickory Street Park Thursday September 5, 2019 along Adams Street. Several residents near the park have voiced concerns about drivers making the area dangerous for pedestrians. The Jefferson City Public Works Department conducted several speed details near the park last month. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Five residents in the Hickory Street area voiced concerns Thursday about what they consider a dangerous traffic area to the Jefferson City Transportation and Traffic Commission.

Mike Lester submitted a request for traffic-calming measures on Adams Street near Hickory Street Neighborhood Park, 503 Hickory St.

The Jefferson City Public Works Department conducted several three-day speed details near the park in July. The report showed the average speed on Adams Street was 33 mph, while the average speed on Hickory Street was about 32 mph. The posted speed limit is 30 mph.

Neighborhood youth frequent the area, walking to the park and Thorpe J. Gordon Elementary School on Jackson Street, neighbors said.

Lester regularly takes his grandchildren to the 1-acre park, he said. He petitioned 17 neighbors, who unanimously agreed traffic-calming measures are needed in the area.

"We just think it's really dangerous not to have some slowing measures in this situation," Lester said. "We just ask if you would consider some slowing measures in the area some road bumps or maybe some stop signs."

Bonita Vaught said she sits on her front porch at different times of the day and witnesses drivers, including school buses, speeding down the street before approaching a hill.

Children also cross the street between parked cars on both sides to enter the park and often experience close calls with vehicles coming down Adams Street, she said.

"It's an accident waiting to happen," Vaught said. "These children are usually not attended by adults. I'm not making a judgment on that. A lot of times they are 6-10 years old and they're bringing their 2-year-old siblings with them."

About 10 years ago, she petitioned the city for "slow, children playing" signs. Unfortunately, those signs have not changed the area much, she said.

"I really feel like over the years I sit on my front porch and think, 'Is this the day I'm going to see a kid mowed over?'" Vaught said.

Jefferson City Design Engineer Tia Griffin said the study showed two accidents in the area in the last 10 years. They are not able to track the number of close calls.

The committee discussed the positives and negatives to different traffic-calming measures including adding a speed limit sign, speed bumps, speed tables, one-way streets and crosswalks, among others.

"I don't think a speed limit sign is going to address the issue," Commissioner Bill Farr said. "I don't know why there's not a crosswalk marked there. I understand code and everything else, but there needs to be (a) crosswalk clearly marked at both intersections. Unfortunately, if you put down slowing measures like speed bumps, then you risk having lousy streets in the wintertime."

Some measures discussed would be more costly than others, Jefferson City Engineer David Bange said.

The committee voted 6-1 to not install stop signs and have staff review the best options for the area. Keeping residents safe would be an important aspect of any changes, the committee agreed.

Committee denies restricted parking on Mississippi Street

In other business Thursday, the commission denied residents' request to restrict parking to one side on Mississippi Street. Commissioners reviewed the most recent observation from the area.

If the city removed parking from one side, almost 40 parking spots would be removed, Griffin said.

Resident Ken Markwell said restricting the parking would allow traffic to flow better between those on the street and in the Whitney Woods subdivision at the bottom of the hill.

Resident Richard Byrd spoke against the request, mentioning potential property value declines due to signage and accidents.

The commission received a letter of opposition from about eight neighbors, commission Chairman Roger Schwartze said.

Property owner Harold McDowell and his daughter, Suzie Settle, recommended a stop sign be placed on St. Paul Street to slow traffic turning on to Mississippi Street.

Traffic studies show areas with a low need for stop signs have a higher rate of violations, Griffin said.

Commissioner Karl Staub suggested the city look into other traffic-calming techniques.

"I don't think removing parking is a good idea," Schwartze said. "I also don't think an unwarranted stop sign is the right thing to do."

If most vehicles are obeying the speed limit, according to the study, then the city could look at other ways to calm traffic, he added.

Also Thursday, the commission approved installing two stop signs at the intersection of Busch and Virginia streets.

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