By Dedra Cordle
The weekday traffic patterns in the village of Urbancrest are set to change.
At the May 10 meeting, council voted in favor of an ordinance that would restrict access to motorists traveling on Urbancrest Industrial Drive from turning onto Augustus Drive between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The council said the passage of this ordinance is necessary for the safety of the residents in the community.
“The speed from these motorists coming from (Urbancrest) Industrial Drive is just unreal,” said councilman S. Henry Warr.
Warr, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said he hopes the legislation would provide an added safety net for the children who live, play and walk in the area.
“Sometimes kids are not even conscious about what is going on around them,” he said. “Recently, a kid ran straight in front of my car without looking up once and if I hadn’t been obeying the speed limit, if I had been going as fast as they travel down that street, that kid could have been seriously injured.”
Speed was not the only reason council voted in favor of the ordinance, they said. For many in the village, the traffic during that time has gotten exponentially worse as more businesses move into the surrounding area and their employee’s vehicles have been clogging the residential streets.
“They create their own traffic flow,” said councilwoman Veronica Shepherd.
According to Shepherd, when motorists who cut down Augustus Drive see that First Avenue is backed up, they travel down to Second Avenue, then Central Avenue and go on down the line and find the street that has the least amount of traffic waiting to turn onto Broadway.
She said she is glad that the matter has finally been addressed.
“Everyone has been observing this growing issue and it is very, very serious,” she said.
During the discussion, councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson asked whether they should look at restricting turn access onto Augustus Drive between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. to clear up the congestion for buses during the school year.
Member Shawn Moore said traffic was not as bad during that time because “motorists are not racing to get to work like they are racing to get home.”
Warr also added that the South-Western City Schools District has already changed their routes so they are not swept up in the morning or afternoon traffic.
While a majority of council voted in favor of the ordinance, Kenneth Skeaton voted against it.
He said he voted against it because he does not feel as if the businesses who would likely be impacted by the restriction had much notice about the change.
“There is an issue with the traffic flow and I support that change 100 percent,” he said. “There is an urgency here and I agree with that 100 percent.”
However, he said, he does not feel comfortable with the lack of notice given to the business community.
Law director Rodd Lawrence added that the legislation could be revised or amended later if there are any pressing concerns.
Shepherd said she feels the village does not have to inform the businesses of the legislation.
“We don’t have to let them know,” she said. “This is our community and their traffic is very heavy.”
With the passage of the ordinance, the street department is set to order the signs and install them as soon as they arrive. Buses are exempt from this ordinance.
Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. praised the council’s decision and the village’s planning committee for their dedication and diligence to solve this issue.