SIKESTON - The Traffic Committee may only be an advisory committee, but it plays an important part in determining the city's traffic laws, according to Tom Bridger, public works director.
"It is the duty of the Traffic Committee to receive requests and complaints having to do with traffic matters and to recommend to City Council ways and means for improving traffic conditions and compliance with traffic regulations," said Bridger. "They look at and take care of traffic control measures that will promote health and safety as well as a clear understanding of regulations to the general public."
The committee considers everything from the placement of stop signs and yield signs to the designation of no-parking areas, speed limits and other traffic control signs as well as other traffic-related recommendations.
"The board reviews and recommends potential traffic problems associated with development," Bridger said, "for example, when the speed limit was established for South Ingram and the Col. George E. Day Parkway."
In some cases, a change is recommended by the Missouri Department of Transportation such as the recently-passed lowering of the speed limit on North Main from Salcedo Road to Cavalry Drive to 50 mph from 55.
City staff are sometimes the source of suggested changes as well. "If we see a potential issue we will address them and bring them to the Traffic Committee," Bridger said.
On the MoDOT-maintained roadways within Sikeston - Highway Y west of Kingshighway, Highway 61, and Business 60/114 - the city provides verification it went through the Traffic Committee and Council approved an ordinance for the change, and MoDOT then changes the signs.
Changes to city streets also go through the traffic committee, but the city is responsible for placing or replacing the signs.
In most cases, the committee's recommendations are followed by the City Council, but council members sometimes vote counter to the recommendation.
The most recent example of this is when Council voted to add two stop signs at the five-way intersection of Applegate, Anderson and Tanner streets. The committee recommended not adding the stop signs; Council decided to place them there anyway.
Committee members are appointed by the Council and serve three-year terms. Current members are Ann Matthews, Lois McRill, Steven C. Arndt and Jean Crowe with the fifth seat being filled by an alternate.
"The traffic committee is one that meets on an as-needed basis," said Bridger. He said the committee will continue to operate using alternates "until October when normal replacements will be done anyway." Alternates are Larry Tetley, Dr. Joe Jacob and Larry Braden, according to Bridger.
Capt. Joe Sebourn represents the Department of Public Safety at the committee's meetings, and Bridger leads the meetings as the committee's city staff contact.
The DPS representative is very important, Bridger said, providing the police department's perspective and offering information about problem intersections, traffic and dates on the number of accidents associated with a traffic feature.
Bridger said there is a default speed limit of 30 mph in place for anywhere in the city without a posted speed limit. "Other than that you look for the speed limit signs and obey the ones that are in place," he said.
Residents with traffic problems or concerns are encouraged to come visit Bridger at City Hall. "We can tell them they steps they need to do to get it on the committee's agenda," he said.
Written comments are welcomed as they provide documentation of requests and concerns, Bridger added.
This is the first in a series of articles on area government boards, commissions and committees.