A few weeks ago in this column I mentioned how it seemed to me (from daily observation as I’m walking downtown) that more and more semi-trucks are moving through the core area of Decatur where they were banned a few years ago as redevelopment of the area was taking place. Such trucks are allowed if they are delivering food and other products to downtown businesses, but many of the semi-trucks I’ve seen are just buzzing through downtown as the fastest way to get through Decatur. I’ve received some communication from residents about the trucks and how they are also impacting their lives along Lake Shore Drive and other parts of the city.
Local resident Tom Hanks sent me the following letter a few days ago: “You mentioned awhile back about the semitrailer and other trucks illegally barreling through the downtown area. “As you know I live on Lake Shore Drive and since the city has prohibited the truck traffic in certain downtown areas it has significantly increased the truck traffic on Lake Shore Drive with it being a state highway. “I was mowing the boulevard this morning near the road and one of these semitrailer trucks went by me on the outside lane traveling at a high rate of speed (well over 40 mph in my estimation). This was a scary situation to have something as large and lethal as this truck miss you by inches. “The drivers on Lake Shore Drive do not obey the speed limits. If you drive the speed limit of 40 mph then 9 out of 10 drivers will pass you exceeding the speed limit. “The traffic on Lake Shore Drive, especially since the truck traffic has added to it, has become very congested and extremely dangerous. “This is a residential area with people such as myself working in their yards and the speed limit should be lowered to 30 mph for safety’s sake. “I have gone to the city council meeting to voice my concern about this. I have called the Decatur Police Department to ask why more patrolling and enforcement of the speed limit is not being done. “I have seen a multitude of accidents caused here by high speed and these large trucks only exacerbate an already deadly situation. Something needs to be done and this must be addressed before something terrible occurs. I do not care to become ROAD KILL for some careless driver!”
• THERE IS no question that trucks coming in and out of Decatur are a sign of success for the work that is being done at local industries and businesses, so we don’t want that to stop. However, semi-trucks and citizens must be able to co-exist safely — and steps have been taken in the past, such as protecting sidewalk diners and others from semi-trucks passing a few feet from where people are sitting and having rocks hitting them pinched by the tires on the trucks. That was the reason for banningdowntown semi-truck traffic. As Tom Hanks mentioned in his letter, that move has shifted a lot of the truck traffic to Lake Shore Drive which seems to me to have some of the most narrow lanes in town. Add drivers that are barreling through the area and it is a sure recipe for potential disaster. I wrote a column several months ago about a semi-tanker coming off of Lake Shore Drive onto the Korean War Veterans bridge and nearly running me off into the lake! I am glad that Decatur has a lot of semi-trucks coming and going, but there has to be some moderation of speed for the safety of the residents. A huge semi-truck is a lot like a 500 pound gorilla who sits wherever he wants to sit. Some of these trucks have drivers who seemingly go on whatever road they want to go on — and drive as fast as they want.
• THE CENTRAL Park fountain is nearing the end of its season and, with near freezing temperatures starting to appear, it may already be turned off for the season by the time you read this column. I think the fountain has looked more attractive this year than ever, with the new paint and blue hue in the basin. It was looking bad last year with all of the bowl discoloration and the black substance running down some of the bowls. Yuk!! As I walked through Central Park each day this season, going and coming from the downtown post office, I really was pleased with the fountain’s appearance. Good job by all involved in restoring its beauty.
Paul Osborne joins Brian Byers & Co, for the City Hall Insider hour at 7:00 Thursday mornings on WSOY, 1340.