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FAQs


Why are there not "Stop" signs at all intersections?

Why not put up "Children at Play" signs?

How do I get a No Dumping sign installed?

How can we get speed humps for our neighborhood?

How is the placement of traffic signals determined?

Is it necessary for me to push a button to activate the pedestrian signal, or can I just wait for the light to change?

Why does it always say, "don't walk" before I've completed crossing the street?

Can I count on a safe crossing if I carefully follow the pedestrian signals?

Why are the words "walk" and "don't walk" being replaced by symbols?

When is a crosswalk unsafe?

Why don't we just reduce the speed limit?

How many parking spaces do I have to provide for a new building?

Where can I get traffic volume counts for city streets?

How do I go about getting a permit to close a street for a parade, festival, block party or other special event?

How can I find out information about traffic accidents that have occurred in the City of Chattanooga?

I am having problems with vehicles running off the road and hitting my fence and/or bushes. Can I have a guardrail installed?

My neighborhood is having continual problem with speeding cars. What can we do to reduce the speeding?

We live on a sharp curve and during wet weather; vehicles slide off and damage our property. What can you do to help solve this problem?

Who is responsible for street lighting?

My streetlight is out, how do I get it fixed?

The area where I live is very dark, how do I get a streetlight?

I have seen decorative streetlighting downtown and in some subdivisions, may I have this type of streetlighting installed in my neighborhood?

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Why are there not Stop Signs at all intersections?

A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection decide who has the right-of-way.

One common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic, either by causing it to stop, or by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs are installed as "nuisances" or "speed breakers," there is high incidence of intentional violation. In those locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign, and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, it should not be used as a speed control device.

A school crossing may look dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand a stop sign to halt traffic. Now a vehicle, which had been a problem for 3 seconds while approaching and passing the intersection, becomes a problem for much longer period. A situation of indecision is created as to when to cross as a pedestrian or when to start as a motorist. Normal gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely no longer exist. An intersection that previously was not busy now looks like a major intersection. It really isn't, it just looks like it. It doesn't even look safer and it usually isn't.

Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations; however, when an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security in a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic results.

Well-developed, nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such controls become necessary. These guidelines taken into consideration, among other things the probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time, the length of time traffic must wait to enter, and the availability of safe crossing opportunities.

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Why not put up "Children at Play" signs?

An often-heard neighborhood request concerns the posting of generalized warning signs with "SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY" or other similar messages. Parental concern for the safety of children in the street near home, and a misplaced but widespread public faith in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these requests.

Although some other states have posted such signs widely in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, a great disservice results. Because of these serious considerations, the City of Chattanooga does not recognize use of "Children at Play" signs. Specific warnings for schools are available for use where clearly justified. Children should not be encouraged to play within the street travel ways. The sign has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.

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How do I get a No Dumping sign installed?

The City no longer installs No Dumping signs. Existing No Dumping signs are not replaced when they fade or are knocked down. Our city code prohibits dumping on any lot, alley, or street. Placing a No Dumping sign in one location implies that dumping is permitted in another. Sign installations in the past did little to stop dumping. The dumping would continue or just move across the street. The City now takes a more proactive stand against dumping with inspectors who work to determine the violator.

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How can we get speed humps for our neighborhood?

The City has a program called the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program that is available for residents to assist them in dealing with speeding in their neighborhood. Speed humps are one of a number of options available to help control speeding. To learn more about this program, the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program Guidelines can be found on the Traffic Engineering web page.

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How is the placement of traffic signals determined?

Traffic signals don't always prevent accidents. Signals are not always an asset to traffic control. In fact, the installation of an unwarranted traffic signal could result in an increase in the total number of accidents and the number of severe injury accidents for an intersection. Usually, in such instances, right angle collisions would be reduced by the traffic signals, but the total number of collisions, especially the rear-end type would increase.

There are times when the installation of signals result in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Many pedestrians feel secure with a painted crosswalk and a red light between them and an approaching vehicle. The motorist, on the other hand, is not always so quick to recognize these "barriers."

When can a traffic signal be an asset instead of a liability to safety? In order to answer this, traffic engineers have to ask and answer a series of questions:

1. Are there so many cars on both streets that signal controls are necessary to clear up the confusion or relieve the congestion? 2. Is the traffic on the main street so heavy that drivers on the side street will try to cross when it is unsafe? 3. Are there so many pedestrians trying to cross a busy main street that confusing, congested or hazardous conditions result? 4. Are there so many school children trying to cross the street at the same time that they need special controls for their protection? If so, is a traffic signal the best solution? 5. Are signals at this location going to help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without stopping unnecessarily? 6. Does the collision history indicate that signal controls will reduce the probability of collisions? 7. Do two arterials intersect at this location and will a signal help improve the flow of traffic? 8. Is there a combination of the above conditions, which indicates that a signal will be an improvement rather than a detriment?

To aid them in answering these questions, engineers compare the existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines. Experienced traffic engineers established these guidelines (Warrants) from many observations at intersections throughout the country. Where the guidelines were met, the signals generally were operating effectively with good public compliance. Where the guidelines were not met, public compliance was reduced, and additional hazards resulted.

A traffic signal that decreases accidents and improves the flow of traffic is an asset to any community. On the other hand, an ill-advised or poorly designed signal can be a source of danger and annoyance to all that use the intersection; pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.

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Is it really necessary for me to push a button to activate the pedestrian signal, or can I just wait for the light to change?

Where buttons are available to pedestrians, it is because the traffic signal is timed for cars, not for people on foot. If you don't activate the pedestrian signal by pushing the button, the traffic light won't give you enough time to safely cross the street. You only need to push the button once for it to be activated.

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Why does it always say, "don't walk" before I've completed crossing the street?

The flashing "don't walk" or upraised hand is a warning to people who have not yet entered the intersections that it's too late to safely cross the street before the traffic signal changes allowing cars to proceed. Signals are timed to allow plenty of time for people who have already started walking to safely cross the street.

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Can I count on a safe crossing if I carefully follow the pedestrian signals?

The signals assign your legal rights in the intersection, however, it is important to be cautious when crossing busy intersections.

The following suggestions are offered in the interest of safety: Cross intersections defensively when crossing the street, regardless of the availability of signals, cross as quickly as possible. Minimize your time in the roadway. Always watch for turning vehicles. You have the legal right to be there, but that doesn't protect you from the carelessness of some motorists.

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Why are the words "walk" and "don't walk" being replaced by symbols?

Transportation engineers world-wide are moving toward the use of symbol signs in place of word signs because they are easier for people to comprehend in a shorter amount of time. Easily recognized symbols also accommodate people who can't read English.

In the case of pedestrian signals, both "word" and "symbol" signs are currently in use. Here's what they mean. "Walk" or walking pedestrian symbol means you may begin crossing. A flashing or steady "Don't Walk" or an upraised hand symbol means it's too late to begin crossing. Don't enter the street but finish crossing if you have already started.

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When is a crosswalk unsafe?

A number of years back, the City of San Diego published some startling results of a very extensive study of the relative safety of marked and unmarked crosswalks. San Diego looked at 400 intersections for five years (without signals or four-way stops) that had a marked crosswalk on one side and an unmarked crosswalk on the other. About two and one half times as many pedestrians used the marked crosswalk, but about six times as many accidents were reported in the marked crosswalks. Long Beach studied pedestrian safety for three years (1972 through 1974) and found eight times as many reported pedestrian accidents at intersections with marked crosswalks than at those without. One explanation of this apparent contradiction of common sense is the false security pedestrians feel at the marked crosswalk. Two painted lines do not provide protection against an oncoming vehicle and the real burden of safety has to be on the pedestrian to be alert and cautious while crossing any street. A pedestrian can stop in less than three feet, while a vehicle traveling at 25 miles per hour will require 60 feet and at 35 miles per hour approximately 100 feet.

Crosswalks exist at all intersections unless signs prohibit pedestrian crossing. Some of these crosswalks are marked with painted lines, but most of them are not. Pedestrian crosswalk marking is a method of encouraging pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Such marked crossings may not be as safe as an unmarked crossing at the same location. Therefore, crosswalks should be marked only where necessary for the guidance and control of pedestrians, to direct them to the safest of several potential routes.

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Why don't we just reduce the speed limit?

Setting the speed limit at a speed below that which the majority of drivers are driving does not reduce the speed of traffic. Drivers, as a whole, drive at a speed that feels right, given the condition of the road – width of lanes, number of driveways, land use (whether commercial or residential), smoothness of the road surface, curvature of the road, width of shoulders, etc. If we set the speed limit much lower than what the driver feels the speed should be, then the speed limit is ignored by most. When we set the speed limit at the proper speed, we get more compliance with the speed limit and a more uniform flow of traffic. To address speeding problems, we offer an alternative for residential communities, called the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program. For more information on this program, go to the Traffic Engineering home page.

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How many parking spaces do I have to provide for a new building?

Once the zoning of the property is known, the Chattanooga Zoning Ordinance specifies the parking rates that are used.

Chattanooga Zoning Regulations and parking ratios are available at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning website. http://www.chcrpa.org

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Where can I get traffic volume counts for city streets?

The City Traffic Engineering Office has volume counts for over 500 different locations in Chattanooga and Hamilton County that are furnished annually by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. You may also visit the TDOT website at http://www.tdot.state.tn.us

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How do I go about getting a permit to close a street for a parade, festival, block party or other special event?

A permit to close or partially close a street for a special event may be obtained from the City Traffic Engineering Office. Application must be made at least 30 days, but no more that 90 days, prior to the event. There is a $25.00 application fee and the applicant is responsible for the cost of whatever traffic control devices (signs, barricades) will be needed. The site or route planned for the event is subject to approval after review by the Police Department and the City Traffic Engineer. A copy of the permit is available on the Traffic Engineering webpage.

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How can I find out information about traffic accidents that have occurred in the City of Chattanooga?

The City Traffic Engineering Office has different types of information available concerning traffic accidents that have occurred in the City. We compile a list annually of the locations with the highest accident rates and we have collision diagrams (summaries of accidents at a specific location) that are compiled yearly for any location having 5 accidents or more. We have hard copies of accident reports for 3 years plus the current year.

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I am having problems with vehicles running off the road and hitting my fence and/or bushes. Can I have a guardrail installed?

In most cases, the requests do not fit the criteria for the installation of a guardrail system. The city has a long-standing policy that guardrails are not installed to protect fences or bushes.

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My neighborhood is having a continual problem with speeding cars. What can we do to reduce the speeding? What about using speed humps?

A field study, which may include a speed study, will be conducted. Based upon the results of the field study recommendations will be made as to possible solutions to the problem. This may/or may not include referral to the Police Dept. for further enforcement, the installation of traffic calming device such as rumble strips or speed tables. Please refer to the section under Neighborhood Traffic Management for more information on residential neighborhood traffic calming.

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We live on a sharp curve and during wet weather; vehicles slide off and damage our property. What can you do to help solve this problem?

A field study will be conducted to ascertain the possible root of the problem. Once the problem is isolated the roadway surface may be milled to roughen the surface or the roadway may be re-surfaced with an anti-skid material.

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Who is responsible for street lighting?

Street lighting is installed and maintained by the Electric Power Board. The City of Chattanooga pays for the power and maintenance and the Traffic Engineering Department is responsible for the street lighting budget.

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My streetlight is out, how do I get it fixed?

The Electric Power Board is responsible for street light maintenance so all street light malfunctions should be reported to their general service number at 756-2706. When reporting a malfunction it will be necessary to have the pole number and the address nearest the street light pole. The number will be stamped or printed on a metal band affixed to the pole. If the pole number and address cannot be obtained it will be necessary for the streetlight to be field located. This situation should be reported to the Traffic Engineering Department at 757-5005.

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The area where I live is very dark, how do I get a streetlight?

You may request your situation be evaluated for streetlighting by calling 423-425-6311, 311, or visit CHA311.com.

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I have seen decorative streetlighting downtown and in some subdivisions, may I have this type of streetlighting installed in my neighborhood?

The standard installation consists of a wooden utility pole and a single high-pressure sodium fixture on a mast arm. This is the only type of streetlighting installation the City of Chattanooga will authorize. Decorative streetlighting is available through the Electric Power Board, not the City of Chattanooga.

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Administration
Development Resource Center
1250 Market Street, Suite 3030 (map)
Chattanooga, TN 37402
Office Hours: 8 am to 4:30 pm
Phone: (423) 643-5950

Request new or report problems with existing traffic control devices by calling 311, (423) 643-6311, or by visiting CHA311.com.

Brian May