By Jamie Wiggan
Residents of Church Avenue’s 1000 block say recent moves to reopen two-way traffic on their stretch of road has caused a surge in speeding and reckless driving.
“It’s a race track,” said Church Avenue resident Steve Vann, who claims he frequently sees cars passing his house in excess of 50 mph. “This is going to end badly.”
The brick-paved neighborhood street that’s home to St. Mary’s Church and a handful of larger homes has historically been open to traffic from both directions between Catherine Baker Knoll Way and St. John Street. But two years ago, residents petitioned council to prohibit westward traffic on their block in response to a hike in speeding motorists who use the street to avoid traffic backups on Chartiers Avenue.
Former mayor Jack Muhr enforced a temporary order to establish the one-way zone in August 2020, but later overturned it in December 2021 shortly before leaving office. He said at the time he’d received negative feedback from the community.
Vann, however, maintains the restriction significantly cut dangerous driving while in effect.
“For over a year, it worked,” he said. “So why did they make the determination to not make it permanent?”
Vann delivered a presentation to council March 8, asking them to reinstate the one-way measure, however they voted against by an eight-vote margin, with Leslie Walker casting the lone no vote.
Councilmember Craig Myers expressed doubts about the extent of the problem before casting his vote.
“I’m around there a lot and I don’t see anybody driving 50 mph,” he said.
While opposing the one-way enforcement, some members suggested they would instead explore other measures, such as stop signs or speed humps.
In an interview after the meeting, Council President Archie Brinza reinforced this position, saying he had heard from residents both for and against the issue.
“It doesn’t mean we’re gonna turn our backs on our residents,” he said.
“I don’t want to forget about these issues.”
Current mayor David Flick indicated support for reinstating the one-way during his monthly report the previous meeting. The mayor has powers to enforce temporary traffic measures, but permanent changes need to be approved by council.
In addition to Vann – who has attempted to drum up further support by posting an online video of speeding traffic outside his home – several others on Church Avenue say the speeding problems improved while the one-way was in effect.
“It was certainly effective,” said Father Regis Ryan, who lives at the St. Mary’s rectory and signed his name on the initial petition. “I certainly agree with it because of the speeding.”
While Ryan said he would gladly sign a petition again if another was presented to him, he recognized others who live in the town outside the affected area were less supportive of the traffic restriction.
An 82-year-old resident of the Leo Meyer Manor, an assisted living facility on Church Avenue, said he likes to walk around his neighborhood but now fears being struck by a speeding vehicle.
The resident, who gave his name as Eugene while withholding his last name, said he’d lived in the facility since 2007 but only noticed the speeding issues during the past few years.
“I know one day I’m gonna step out and get hit,” he said.