Dave Lyle progress slown by clash in priorities

Beyond disputes over turn arrows and stop signs, a deeper conflict underlies problems on Dave Lyle. It pits City Hall against the state Department of Transportation, which has blocked the city's efforts to make changes.

The conflict has resulted in wasted time and money. Last year, the city spent $37,000 on a traffic study needed to convince the DOT to put in protected left turn arrows at two troublesome turns.

But DOT didn't act on the findings. It rejected the study, saying the changes would slow overall traffic flow on Dave Lyle. That decision took seven months to be reached.

Here's the rub: City officials care most about helping local drivers who use "side roads" such as Springdale and Mount Gallant. Those drivers complain of long waits and unprotected turns.

The DOT cares more about the main thoroughfare. More turn lanes or arrows might help some local drivers, but they would also slow down many more on the main drag.

"The folks that call up the council members complaining are the ones that get involved in a little side-street delay," said DOT engineer Greg Shaw, who handles Dave Lyle for the state. "While they do have problems, in the overall scheme of things, they're the minority ... the silent majority of people are just the straight-through traffic on Dave Lyle."

Mayor Doug Echols and City Manager Carey Smith plan to meet soon with new DOT director Buck Limehouse to share their grievances over this philosophy.

"This is kind of a classic issue of state transportation planning (versus) local interests," said Smith.