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Similar street names hinder fast response

POSTED: March 1, 2009 1:00 a.m.

With so many duplicate or similar street and road names in Hall County, it's a wonder emergency responders ever get to the right location.

For instance, there's a Pinetree Circle in the city in the same subdivision as a Skyline Drive. Outside the city in another residential area are another Pinetree Circle and Skyline Drive.

More than 20 street names start with "Pine," such as Pinetree Lane, Pinetree Trail, Pine Valley Lane, Pine Valley Road, Pine Drive, Pine Way and Pine Cove. Delivery people, especially from out of county, often drive extra miles to the wrong address because the name was similar.

But pity the poor emergency workers. If they get a call to a Ridge Road address, it might well be a Ridge Street number. Or Beverly Road, when it could be Beverly Drive.

Fortunately, modern technology helps. Those calling in from a land telephone, says Marty Nix, central communications director, are in a database that more than likely will establish the correct location. Unfortunately, the same isn't always true with a cell phone, and 911 call takers have to work harder to be sure they're sending somebody to the correct emergency location.

Nix is developing a plan to better deal with duplicate addresses. Some already are flagged as potential problems, alerting call takers to use extra care to avoid sending units to a wrong address. Raintree Trace and Raintree Trail are examples because they come up on a computer screen as "Raintree Trc" or "Raintree Tr."

Developers have to file a request with the planning department for new street names. That is forwarded to Nix and his staff, which have the final word. If the name is so similar to others already on the maps that it would cause confusion, it is rejected.

Another complication for emergency personnel, Gainesville is divided into quadrants, northeast, southwest, etc. Sometimes when the same street runs from one quadrant to another, the same number for a house or business might be used at either end of the street.

An example is Jesse Jewell Parkway, where at one end J&J Foods is 1075 SW, and at the other end an office building is 1075 NE. Some streets end, then pick up again. For instance, Broad Street downtown runs from West Academy east to Main, then resumes at the courthouse at Henry Ward Way, formerly South Green Street, and runs east to Spring Street in front of Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

People need to be aware exactly where they're making a call from so they can give 911 call takers precise information that won't cause an emergency unit to go to the wrong location.

• • •

Birmingham, England, decided recently to drop all the apostrophes from street signs. Thus, St. Paul's Square will become St. Pauls Square. City officials had been dropping them gradually over the years anyway despite protests from grammarians rightly declaring that the city should follow proper punctuation.

Nobody's made it official around here, but sign makers apparently have over the years deleted apostrophes from such road markers as "Brown's Bridge Road," or "Clark's Bridge Road." They're even on maps and in phone books that way. Such roads carried apostrophes in the first place because at one time people by the name of Brown or Clark owned the bridges on them. Those apostrophes denoted possession.

Clark's Bridge's name came from Elizabeth Clark, who built a covered bridge across the Chattahoochee River, where she previously had operated a ferry. Subsequent bridges there carried her name.

Brown's Bridge's name is from Minor Winn Brown, who built the first bridge across the Chattahoochee at the Hall-Forsyth counties line.

Thompson Bridge was built by some Thompson brothers, but it apparently never carried the apostrophe s, which wouldn't be grammatically incorrect either. Same with Mundy Mill Road, named after a mill operated by a man named Mundy. Tanner's Mill was operated by a Tanner family, but its apostrophe is missing most places, and the "s," too, in some cases.

• • •

Ed Jared's book, "One Hell of a Ride," subject of last Sunday's column, is available at Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University, with proceeds going to the history center.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times and can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle N.E., Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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