After hearing from seven people upset over the new configuration of the intersection of Ila Road, Broad and Elm streets and South Broad Street Extension, Commerce’s city government promised to seek improvements.
“It was never the intention to cause any inconvenience,” said Mayor Clark Hill. “We certainly do not want to cause a detriment to any business, nor to people who live nearby and go to church.”
The mayor called the problems mentioned by the speakers “unintended consequences” and told them the reconfiguration is “not a permanent change.”
Bill Sims, whose insurance agency is just down South Broad Street Extension from the intersection, complained that prohibiting left turns off Ila Road onto that street is affecting his business. The new system, he said, “deters potential customers of mine who cannot enter Broad Street Extension because they can’t turn left.”
Buster Williams spoke on behalf of his daughter, who lives on Harris Street, calling the new configuration “very disappointing.” He said Harris Street is too narrow to use as an alternative route to South Elm Street.
Ralph Ashley is pastor of Commerce Pentecostal Fire Baptized Holiness Church, located on South Broad Street Extension. He admitted that the access to the church has always been difficult because of the intersection, but pointed out that he’d seen no major accidents there.
“I would love to see it changed back,” he said. He supported the notion of a four-way stop, and added that “people who live on that side of town, it’s almost like they’re cut off from their destination.” He said the new system is “terribly inconvenient.”
Rob Jordan complained that “not a whole lot of thought went into this” and suggested that businesses will lose revenue because of it. He told the council it should “do your best to increase businesses, not decrease business. If it ain’t fix, don’t break it. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.”
Wayne Smith, who said he also represented Mary Cowart, owner of the strip shopping center at the intersections, told the council that the change has resulted in logging trucks cutting through the shopping center parking lot or making dangerous U-turns near Ivie Funeral Home.
The owners of the Dairy Queen and the Jackson Food Mart both spoke briefly, saying that their customers have complained and asking for a solution that will not affect their businesses.
For the full story, see the April 17 edition of The Commerce News.