Farragut View, Sonja Dr., Admiral Rd. residents at meeting mostly favor cushions; but can kill?

About 20 residents of Farragut View, Sonja Drive and Admiral Road voiced their opinions, mostly in favor, on proposed speed cushions along Sonja Drive and Admiral Road during a two-hour public meeting in Farragut Town Hall Thursday, Sept. 1.

“I can think of no good reason why anybody living in that affected area — in that speed area — would vote against it,” resident Sonny Kirkendall said. “Even though the speeds don’t seem excessive, they are. (That part of Sonja Drive is) a very narrow road, no shoulders.

“And, the reality is Sonja Drive has become not just a place for residents to get in and out of their homes, it’s become a place for people to cut through to skip traffic lights … people are using it so they can speed,” he added.

“I have driven down Admiral Road many times and have seen people in their yards trying to slow traffic, and I do it myself because we get people going so fast.”

“We’ve got children and elderly … I’m surprised there are not more accidents.”

“I don’t want to wait until someone or a pet gets killed,” resident Valerie Taylor said.

While Kirkendall said he felt he was talking to the choir, another resident, David Hamilton, opposed the speed cushions.

Hamilton said he is disabled with low back pain. When approaching a speed cushion, “I have to come to a complete stop to go across,” he said.

Hamilton also pointed out another resident, Teresa Williams, who travels around Town in a wheelchair. “(Having the speed cushions) would kill her,” he said. “My opinion is speed bumps violate the (Americans with Disabilities Act).”

Brannon Tupper, assistant Town engineer, said he would look at the ADA requirements to see what considerations could be made for disabled persons.

“We respect your opinion,” he said. “If there is a special case, we will make special considerations.”

Tupper explained the proposal is a response to an application submitted a year ago by Farragut View residents.

“We’ve had a back log of traffic calming applications,” he said. “The area’s growing. We all know there are speeding concerns all along Farragut.

“We’ve done applications for five or six different subdivisions in Town already this year,” Tupper added.

In 2019, area residents submitted a similar request for traffic calming measures for Sonja Drive, with 12 speed cushion locations proposed — eight on Sonja and four on Admiral Drive — but he said at that time it did not receive enough votes, so the application was closed.

“A lot of the feedback we got from the last application was that it seemed excessive,” Tupper said. “This year, we’re looking at it a little bit different.”

First, the Town revised its traffic calming policy, distinguishing between speed zone and affected area, and changed the voting thresholds to at least 65 percent of the residents from the speed zone, and at least 50 percent from the overall affected area who must vote in favor of traffic mitigation.

Second, the Town changed the measures from bolt-down speed bumps to asphalt cushions, which ride smoother.

Tupper said the Town also lowered the number of proposed cushions from 12 to seven locations: four on Sonja Drive and three on Admiral Drive.

“These are spaced closer to 800 feet apart,” he said. “It will still have a lot of positive traffic-calming effect. You are still going to deter cut-through traffic.”

Once the Town receives a majority vote in favor of the speed cushions, the matter will go before Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, which will decide whether to send it to Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“Best case scenario … if it is approved, there’s a chance we could get it installed before winter this year, but it will likely be spring before it is approved,” Tupper said.