New stop signs aid neighborhood

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 18, 2009

It’s not exactly economic development, but Brookhaven Mayor LesBumgarner took action to install a three-way stop earlier this weekthat will help the people of one small residential area in the citycenter get to work.

The city’s newest traffic measure was erected Monday at theintersection of Fisher Street and West Congress Street, a skinnyblacktop road most often used as a cut-through route from Highway51 to downtown Brookhaven. Bumgarner said the morning trafficslicing down West Congress becomes so thick that residents thereasked him for help during his campaign for mayor.

“People have to wait forever to back out of their driveway toget to work,” Bumgarner said. “When you back out in traffic, yougotta have a little time. I went down there several days, and Ithink we needed a stop sign.”

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Bumgarner said there have been no accidents on the street, butadded that the stop sign wasn’t placed for safety reasons.

“The concern shouldn’t be through traffic, the concern should bewith the people who live on the street,” he said.

Through traffic will likely be a concern, however, untilcommuters adjust to the new stop sign. Some drivers there,accustomed to their old habits, continue to speed through theintersection without stopping.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said his department isallowing commuters a two-week window to adjust to the new sign, andthen the warning tickets his officers have been issuing will turninto traffic citations. He said the department has issued anaverage of more than 30 warnings per day since the stop sign wasinstalled Monday.

“Really, a person has to be blind not to see those stop signs,”Henderson said. “People are just gonna have to open their eyes.

“At the same time, we understand people are not used to it,” hecontinued. “We always give warnings for a week or two every time weput up a stop sign or new speed limit sign.”

Henderson said the warning period for West Congress Street willlikely go on another week before real citations are issued.

“After next week, it’s over,” he said. “People are going to getthe tickets, and I don’t want to hear nothing about it.”