Downtown Speed Cushions Spark Debate in Greenville - WNCT

Downtown Speed Cushions Spark Debate in Greenville

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Tensions were a little high at Monday night's city council meeting. City leaders talked about speed cushions the city installed on a few streets downtown.

The speed cushions are basically speed bumps, but they are temporary, and made from rubber. The city chose to install speed cushions instead of regular speed bumps, ones you may find in a grocery store parking lot or near a school, for two main reasons. First, they are temporary so the city can remove or move them if necessary. Secondly, emergency response vehicles, like fire trucks and larger ambulances, have wide enough wheel bases that they can straddle the speed cushion so it won't slow them down in an emergency.

Council member Marion Blackburn asked that the city brief the public on why these cushions were installed and if they are working.

"I felt that the public had a lot of questions that really have never been answered publicly," Blackburn explained, "Our downtown is really our public face. Its where, sooner or later, everybody ends up so when they tinker with our downtown I think we need to be careful and cautious and well informed."

Several business owners came to the meeting to show support for the speed cushions.

Blackburn and council member Calvin Mercer say they've heard complaints, but there biggest concern was over who initiated the project.

Since 2009, the city has been pushing for ways to make downtown safer, after a random drive-by downtown left two people dead.

The city initially tried putting barricades on the roads at night to keep traffic from moving through but business owners later expressed that those barriers were hurting their business.

The traffic engineering department decided to try speed cushions in September. They met with the city manager, the mayor, and several department heads to discuss a plan of action. They started testing the cushions in November under direction of the city manager, not city council.

Mercer says council members should have been more involved and Blackburn says the public needs to be too.

The city started doing data collection on the effectiveness of the speed cushions in January.

9 On Your Side will keep you posted on those results when they're finished.

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