Ordinances give City Manager traffic authority

By Frank Lewis

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As Portsmouth City Council continues to go through and update all their codified ordinances to transfer power to the city manager, current City Manager Derek K. Allen will find himself involved in more and more of the operation of the city.

On Monday night, council will give first reading to an ordinance creating a Division of Traffic Engineering and Safety clarifying that the city manager will be the executive head of that division.

“The city manager is hereby authorized to place and maintain traffic control devices upon any street or highway under his jurisdiction as are necessary to effectuate the provisions of this Traffic Code, or to regulate, warn or guide traffic, and such other traffic control devices as he shall deem necessary for the proper control of traffic,” the ordinance reads. “The city manager shall determine the location, timing and coordination of such traffic control devices upon the basis of an applicable engineering or traffic investigation.”

The ordinance goes on to say he should consider the maximum safety and protection of vehicular and pedestrian traffic from physical injury or property damage; the existing and potential traffic movement, volume and conditions; the location and frequency of accidents, including studies of remedial measures as well as the recommendations of the police chief, and fire chief(s) and city engineer; the acceleration of transportation of persons and property by vehicles so as to expedite travel and promote public safety; the convenience and welfare of the general public in parking, standing, loading and unloading, and the use of the streets as affecting business concerns and places of assembly; and economy in the expenditure of money.

All of those items were previously listed in the Codified Ordinances of the city as being under the direction of the mayor, but with the changeover to the city manager form of government, all such documents must be updated.

In another ordinance, the city manager is authorized to designate any street or highway as a through street or highway and require that all vehicles stop or yield the right of way as may be required before entering the same, and to designate any intersection as a stop intersection and require all vehicles to yield the right of way. The city manager is also authorized to designate “yield” intersection as well as “one-way” streets and to mark lanes to be used by traffic moving in a particular direction regardless of the centerline of the roadway as well as erect signs directing slow-moving traffic to use a designated lane or allocating specified lanes to traffic moving in the same direction.

The ordinance also give the city manager the authority to install traffic devices and signals as well as establishing safety zones and crosswalks among other decisions.

Other ordinances deal with the powers of city council, including one that reads – “Not withstanding the provisions of this chapter, Council may override any decision of the city manager and may assume any of the powers delegated to the city manager by a resolution adopted by a vote of a majority of the members duly elected thereto.”

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928.

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