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Caution lights given approval
traffic study, more flashing lights.jpg
A traffic study has suggested the placement of two warning beacon lights at the intersection of N. Spring and Caldwell streets, among other recommendations. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

McMinnville officials have approved three cautionary flashing lights for Spring Street, bringing the total to four. 

That decision came following a study by the Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program, an examination requested by city officials after a deadly accident at the intersection of Spring and Donnell streets. An examination of the Spring and Caldwell intersection was also provided, at the city’s request. 

McMinnville Public Works Department director Frank Southard suggested before members of a joint Safety and Streets & Sanitation Committee meeting that the city purchase three warning beacon lights with warning signs and four advisory speed limits signs of 20 miles per hour. Approximate cost given was $6,000.

Those would be placed per TTAP suggestion: two on N. Spring Street on either side of Caldwell Street for both inbound and outbound traffic, and one just before Walling Street for traffic heading in the direction of Donnell Street. 

Also recommended was moving the existing beacon light – backing it up by approximately 100 feet – so that it can be a precautionary measure for Villa Street, as well as Donnell. 

The two 20 mph advisory speed limit signs would be placed on N. Spring and used in an effort to slow motorists as they approach Caldwell, while the remaining 20 mph advisory speed limit signs would be used to slow motorists as they approach the three intersections of Villa, Donnell and Walling. 

Advisory speed limit signs are yellow. While black and white signs indicate the official speed limit of an area, yellow speed limit signs serve a more cautionary purpose. Advisory would be 20. The official speed limit is 30. 

Alderman Everett Brock asked, “Why wouldn’t we just lower the speed limit?” 

Southard replied, “We tried the same thing on Post Road.”

“At least you could enforce it. You couldn’t enforce this,” said Brock. 

Alderman Steve Harvey stated, “I’m kind of like Everett. Why would you do an advisory rather than just lowering the speed limit?”

“Motorists don’t know the difference between advisory and mandatory,” said city attorney Tim Pirtle. “So you see 20 and you think it’s 20.”

Brock stated, “We can’t ticket them for not going down to the suggested speed, but we’re trying to get them to that suggested speed. So, why not make it an offense if you go over it? If you want to do this and try it out, I have no problem with it.” 

“They are traffic calming measures,” said Alderman Rachel Kirby. 

Altogether, TTAP recommended increased traffic enforcement, warning signs, speed feedback devices, warning beacons, removal of sight distance impediments, turn restrictions, traffic calming measures and all-way stop control. 

Safety and Streets & Sanitation Committee members unanimously approved purchase of three beacon lights with warning sign and four 20 mph advisory signs at a cost of approximately $6,000. The purchase is under $10,000, so Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval is not required.