Councilwoman visits residents to address speeding concerns in northside neighborhood
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After nearly a year of complaints about speeding and crashes on Monteiro Street, neighbors who’ve been most impacted got their first face-to-face visit from their council representative to study what can be done to fix the problem.
Marilynn Joyner was joined by 6th District Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, the Department of Public Works (DPW), police, and traffic control in the cold rain Thursday morning just outside of her home, which is still under construction from when it was last struck in September.
The meeting came just days after Joyner and her neighbors addressed City Council about the damage and fear they’ve had to endure for months.
During the meet-up, a car sped past the group just as Joyner was explaining why she is so afraid to even stand outside in her yard near the road.
“On rainy days like this, I am very paranoid,” Joyner said. “That is when most of the accidents happened.”
Following September’s collision, DPW says rumble strips were installed in addition to extra traffic chevrons. A more prominent curb is there to help discourage speeding coming off the First Street bridge into the Northside neighborhood.
Joyner and Robertson, however, both agree that those safety measures haven’t been working.
“I feel your pain and that’s the kind of stuff that makes it real over and over again,” Robertson said.
Joyner says she’s frustrated that more hasn’t been done to install measures like speed bumps, which she believes would do a lot more to make the area safer.
“How did you go about getting those speed humps on those other streets - like on North Avenue or over in the Ginter Park areas - where there are residential areas and no traffic that impacts their streets as much as it impacts this street right here?” Joyner asked Robertson.
DPW says the solution isn’t that simple because the city has its hands tied with state traffic regulations and red tape.
“This right here is an emergency route, we can’t just put speed tables on an emergency route,” Bobby Vincent said. “We can only do what’s in accordance with the federal highway administration.”
For the time being, Vincent says the only thing that could be done without much hassle would be to install more signage to alert drivers that they shouldn’t be speeding in this area.
He says, though, that enforcing behavior would prove difficult.
Vincent also shot down ideas of extending the guard rail closer to the neighborhood because its purpose is to keep people from driving off of the North First Street bridge during an accident, not to keep vehicles from striking homes.
Robertson says the point of Thursday’s meeting was primarily to get feedback from Joyner and her neighbors and to experience firsthand the danger that residents on Monteiro Street feel on a regular basis.
She did not commit to any one solution that could be implemented, saying that she didn’t want to make a promise she couldn’t deliver on.
“We’re not going to say today what can and can’t be done. We don’t want to make any false promises without having any idea if we can logically do that,” Robertson told Joyner. “I am here to make promises to her and her neighbors that we are going to do everything that we can to address this situation.”
The jury is still out on what those permanent solutions could look like, but Robertson floated the idea of increased speed enforcement, traffic cameras, and additional signage as possible solutions.
“We’re praying the next two or three weeks nothing happens while we are trying to work out a more comprehensive solution,” Robertson said.
In the meantime, Joyner says she’s cautiously optimistic that the city will follow through on its promises to provide some form of relief to her and her neighbors.
“I am so grateful right now that they did come out and they are listening to me and the community to come up with some type of resolution so that we can all feel safe on our own. community,” Joyner said. “It’s given us some assurance that there is something on the other end of this bridge.”
Based on Joyner’s input and what they saw Thursday morning, Robertson says she will launch a study that will look into all possible solutions to reduce speeding and crashes. However, a hard date has not been set for when that study would launch.
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