The Rev. Ben Mock alongside North Main Street in front of Mt. Zion Church. Members of the church are seeking a stop sign and lower speed limit along the route.
Members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church on North Main Street are seeking measures to slow traffic along that route, following a fatal crash in front of their church last month.
The 400 member church has created a petition asking for a lower speed limit on the stretch of road from downtown Jasper to the intersection with Philadelphia Road. They are also requesting a stop sign at the intersection of Old Philadelphia Road and North Main.
The July 2 wreck that killed Kimberley Godfrey of Talking Rock did not involve church members, but is the latest of several serious wrecks in that section of road. The Rev. Ben Mock said it is difficult to get information on the total number of wrecks there, but he found seven listed on a 911 report, and church members remember others that involved serious injuries.
One of the other wrecks left a victim with permanent brain damage; another involved the nephew of a church member.
“The primary culprit is speed,” Mock said. “People coming out of Jasper come around that curve [where Old Philadelphia Road intersects] and they start picking up speed.”
Mock said they have seen several wrecks involving church members entering or leaving the Mt. Zion parking lot. The church now hires an off-duty officer to direct traffic on Sunday mornings.
Motorists oftentimes speed on the straightaway in front of Mt. Zion, and church members believe the numerous side roads, businesses along the route, traffic from the nearby industrial park and from the church create a serious hazard with those high speeds. [Editor’s [Note: the road in front of the church is called N. Main Street, Old Highway 5, SR 5 alternate route and Talking Rock Highway, depending on which map is used.]
The church is heading up the petition effort, asking that the speed limit be lowered to 35 mph from the intersection at Philadelphia Road south to Jasper. Rev. Mock points out that this 35 mph limit is already in effect for South Main and Refuge Road. The church also wants to see the passing areas eliminated in conjunction with this.
Several stop signs have been added in the general vicinity of the church in recent years, including those on Old Philadelphia Road, to slow traffic heading to Walmart, as well as two stop signs on North Main between the church and downtown Jasper.
“I don’t see the difference between those and [the one we are seeking],” Mock said.
Nearby businesses and homeowners have been supportive and 250 people had signed the petition as of Monday morning, Mock said. Mock met with Commissioner Rob Jones, who encouraged him to start with the petition as a first step to getting the changes.
Anyone interested in signing the petition, can contact the church at 706-692-6315.