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Street Fighter: Davie Avenue resident works to lower speed limit

Street Fighter: Davie Avenue resident works to lower speed limit


John Gorman wants the City of Statesville to speed up the process of lowering the speed on Davie Avenue and as long as there aren't any speedbumps on the way, city council will vote on the matter on March 1.

"I'm excited about it," Gorman said once he heard the council will vote to begin the process of lowering the speed limit. "I anticipate it will be passed with 100%."

Gorman has been working with city and state officials for more than a month to lower the speed limit from 35 miles per hour to 25. 

"I don't know how I ended up in the saddle with this," Gorman said while explaining how he became a leader on his street in asking for the speed limit change. "But it's been an enlightening process."

The issue has been that the road is controlled by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The City of Statesville can ask for a speed limit change, but the process of lowering the speed limit goes beyond the city's direct control. So while Gorman started with reaching out to the city council, he has worked his way up through the state's bureaucracy as well.

"It's been a little bit convoluted getting this process taken care of," Gorman said.

The good news for Gorman is that the state agrees with him on lowering the speed. In an email update relayed from Sen. Vickie Sawyer's office, the Department of Transportation's division engineers concur with the suggestion of a 25 mph limit based on the historic district and other route characteristics. The Statesville Police Department's report on speeds and traffic data found that the average speed on the road was 32 miles per hour, but the division engineers noted that those driving faster than the speed limit are the issue at hand.

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It's those outliers that are a concern of residents as well. Gorman and other residents shared stories about tractor-trailers, other large trucks, and everyday vehicles speeding down the street.

"There's a lot of responsible drivers going 35 or less, but with children, elderly, it can be treacherous. Some people blow down the street," Kevin Drako said.

Drako owns and operates the Yellow Bow Tie Bed & Breakfast on Davie Avenue and lives on the street. He said he was impressed with how quickly it went from Gorman getting signatures to petition the city and state to where the issue is now. "Everybody is acting quick, and that's awesome. Seeing everyone react so quick is fabulous."

The city had reached out to the state before Gorman contacted Sawyer's office, but the process of how it and the NCDOT would go about lowering the limit took time for the city to make sure it handled the procedure correctly.

"I am fully in favor of the speed decrease," City Councilman John Staford said. "John had reached out to me in regard to this several weeks ago. As it is a DOT road, the city did not have jurisdiction to change the speed, but staff in engineering and police both jumped on it and got things moving."

For Councilwoman Amy Lawton, it was an example of how residents can seek change in the community.

"It was a totally, citizen-driven initiative, he handled much of it himself," Lawton said. She said she communicated with Gorman and City Manager Ron Smith during the process. "It shows when you use proper channels, things get done with teamwork."

Lawton said she doesn't anticipate any problems with the measure passing on Monday as it was brought forward by citizens and so far informally improved by the NCDOT.

Follow Ben Gibson on Facebook and Twitter at @BenGibsonSRL

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