City officials mull options to slow 1st Avenue traffic

The city of Sweet Home is looking at several options to slow down traffic on First Avenue.

Generating a short discussion, Councilor Jim Bean told the council about the Traffic Safety Committee’s concerns and plans for the street during the council’s regular meeting on March 24 and mentioned the possibility of using “tabletop” speed bumps, like Albany, in areas where the city has speeding problems.

Albany is using the speed bumps on through residential streets that attract traffic, Senior Engineering Technician Joe Graybill said. “These traffic-calming ideas are a way of slowing down fast traffic.”

First Avenue is a residential street that receives a lot of traffic traveling between highways 20 and 228, he said. The street has been a Traffic Safety Committee priority, and the city has been experimenting with different traffic calming options.

Among them is the current striping pattern, which includes parking on one side of the street, a bike lane and vehicle travel lanes that are narrower than some vehicles.

The narrow lanes, Graybill said, help slow drivers down a little.

Other options for the street include no striping, parking on both sides of the street and an alternating series of bumpouts called chicanes. Graybill set up orange cones in a chicane pattern last week to see how that affected traffic speed.

He watched drivers negotiate the street, and it slowed them down a little, he said.

Sewer and water improvements have been completed on First Avenue from Highway 20 south of Highway 228, and the city has plans to overlay the street this year, Graybill said. “So here is the opportunity to take First Avenue to another step.”

Within the next month, the city will likely hold a public meeting, primarily to give First Avenue residents and others a chance to discuss options for the street, Graybill said. The city also plans to work with Oregon Department of Transportation to realign the intersection of First Avenue and Highway 20 to improve visibility.

First Avenue has perpetually had problems not only with speeders and regular traffic but also truck traffic, which is prohibited, taking a short cut from and to highways 20 and 228.

The truck traffic is still a problem, according to neighbors Graybill talked to last week, but there appear to be fewer trucks using the street than a decade ago.

Also receiving an overlay this year will be 47th Avenue between Airport Road and Highway 20, Graybill said.

Present at the council meeting were Bean, Mayor Craig Fentiman, Laure Fowler and Greg Mahler.

In other business, the council declared three vehicles surplus, including a 1984 N700 Tymco Sweeper, a 1983 Chevrolet S10 4×4 pickup and a 1980 Chevrolet pickup.