Drivers take out planters in Highland Street turn lane, again

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An effort to make the Highland Strip safer for pedestrians seems to be causing problems for drivers.

The University Neighborhoods Development Corporation decided to add a crosswalk and turning lane planters to slow cars down for pedestrians on Highland.  Between Mynders and Walker, the street has heavy foot traffic because it is walking distance from the University of Memphis, and the strip has multiple popular college bars.

They were installed April 26, but after a number of accidents, they may be causing more harm than help.

Parker Shannon, who works at a business directly in front of the planters, said she’s seen countless accidents involving the planters. She said it was only one or two days from the time the planters were put in before the first accident.

“When you have something that large with people who already do not follow the speed limit around here, and they’re the same color as the road, there is going to be stuff that happens, and stuff has happened,” Shannon said.

Shannon said the street seems more dangerous now with the planters than it was without them.

“I think they’re definitely not helping pedestrians,” Shannon said. “We have that crosswalk down the road, but that doesn’t do much. It would be better if there was a light or something.”

She said most of the accidents with planters happen at night because the area is dim, and the planters almost blend in with the color of the street.

“It’s very unsafe to have those there at night, and it definitely obstructs the businesses around here from doing business like we’ve been doing the whole time,” Shannon said.

Another employee at the business said the planters have caused the bottom of her car’s front bumper to be scratched up because they sit in front of where she needs to turn in to her business to avoid a steep curb incline going into the parking lot.

Shannon said she’s seen two pedestrians hit by cars in the year she’s worked there, so she knows something needs to be done, but the planters may not be the perfect solution.

Cody Fletcher, executive director of the UNDC, previously told WREG that the improvements cost $200,000 from the UNDC-Highland Strip Revitalization TIF, meaning the funding for this comes from taxpayers.

WREG was not able to reach Fletcher with questions Thursday.

Fletcher previously told The Memphis Flyer that these improvements are only temporary, and a design firm is in the process of completely redesigning the area to improve overall safety and walkability.

A giant ground mural on the street is scheduled to complete this portion of the improvements.

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