OPINION |

Answer Man: I am writing about a long-standing traffic problem on East Mimosa Street. Over a brief stretch of the road as you drive east, it splits into two one-way roads. One of the roads dead ends and the other quickly converts back into two-way traffic. I and numerous neighbors have had near misses. Why is the road designed this way? — George Heinz of Springfield

George, as long as anyone can remember — and I’ve talked to a couple that has lived on East Mimosa for 33 years — the road has been split into two one-way stretches that span only five blocks.

In fact, the city provided me with a 1967 plat map for the Crestview Estates Sixth Addition development, which includes part of East Mimosa Street.

The plat map shows that a power company — the power line along Mimosa was once called the Arlington USA Power Line — has an easement to the green median where the power lines stand and to the road.

This median separates the two short one-way stretches of Mimosa.

Those power towers are much bigger today and later plat documents show the easement belongs to the Southwestern Power Administration.

It seems that East Mimosa splits here because of the power company easement.

The city sent me five plat maps from developments along or near this stretch of Mimosa. The earliest was 1967 and the most recent was 1984.

“Our guess is that the developers of these separate plats had to creatively design their developments around this existing easement,” says Kristen Milam, a spokesperson for the city.

That hopefully explains the odd configuration.

The split occurs just before South Glenhaven Avenue.

Screenshot of East Mimosa map.

But what makes this little stretch even more unusual and confusing is that as you head east on Mimosa these things happen:

  • You must bear right to continue east. If you bear left you’re suddenly going the wrong way.
  • Once you bear right, don’t lose your focus. After only a few blocks you will encounter a sign that says “street ends,” although it physically doesn’t end. There is a stub to the street that keeps going another 50 yards and ends at a house that’s at the end of the stub.
  • When east-bound Mimosa ends, instead of going down the stub, you turn left on South Patterson Avenue — unless, of course, you either live in the house at the end of the stub or are visiting that house or are a news reporter leaving his business card at that house.
  • South Patterson covers the short jaunt back to parallel Mimosa Street, which was westbound only for a couple of blocks, but at Patterson is two-way, once again.

Residents say they often see drivers — some who live in the area and should know better — going the wrong way on the one-way sections of East Mimosa.

One part of one-way East Mimosa abruptly dead ends. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

Clyde and Judy Paul have lived on South Marlan Avenue since 1989. It’s the house at the end of the block that borders Mimosa.

In fact, while their front door faces South Marlan, their garage door faces Mimosa.

This means that when they drive home south on Marlan they can’t simply turn left to drive the 50 feet to their garage, unless they choose to drive the wrong way on a one-way street.

“We drive past our house and come back,” Clyde Paul tells me.

One day, Judy Paul was doing just that and was about to turn onto westbound Mimosa to park her car in the garage.

“I was not thinking that I had to pay close attention to who might be coming down the wrong way,” she says.

And there was someone coming down the wrong way.

“He was flying,” she says. “If I had navigated that left turn, he would have smacked me a good one.”

The Pauls have not seen many accidents, but the neighborhood, these days, is heavy with children who often play in the grassy median. They worry about a child being hit.

One unintended consequence of a divided East Mimosa, says Bryan Sanders, is that people speed. He has lived off of Mimosa since 2001.

“People think of it as a divided highway, like a freeway, and instead of going 25 mph they go 45 mph,” he says.

Do you often see people driving the wrong way?

“You see it all the time,” he says.

One part of Mimosa is eastbound only, and the other is westbound only. One resident says the divided roadway encourages drivers to speed. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

From my perspective, George, the other part of your question is why does the southern section of Mimosa Street — the part that is eastbound only — suddenly stop.

Why doesn’t it go a few more blocks and make a nice smooth re-connect with its fraternal roadway to the north?

W. Dean Graham has the answer.

Graham and his wife Janet developed some of the nearby subdivisions along with J.D. Caywood and Sharon Caywood.

In fact, they built the home where the aforementioned Judy and Clyde Paul live.

According to Dean Graham, he and his partner took over a development in the area when builder Dick Short went bankrupt in the real estate crash of 1980. They bought the property back from the bank.

The Grahams also bought a separate nearby 12 acres to build a large home. They lived in it from 1989 to 1998 with their five children.

According to public records with the Greene County Assessor’s Office, it has eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms and one half bathroom.

The house, if you drive by on Mimosa, is almost hidden from view.

Part of the obscurity is the trees; another part is that there is only a little stub of a road off of Mimosa to the house.

If you turned north on South Chambery Avenue, you would turn into a well-populated subdivision that Graham and his partner built.

If you turn south, you are on the drive to the two-story mansion.

If East Mimosa, eastbound, were continued beyond where it now ends, it would go past the front door of the mansion and re-connect with the northern part of the street.

It does not do that, Graham says, because there was no reason for him to do so when he developed the 12.5 acres and built the mansion.

If he had developed it with multiple housing units, he says, the city would have required a roadway to the property.

When he bought the parcel, he tells me, it was zoned for condominiums. If he had built condominiums, he says, he would have needed a roadway.

But he built his mansion, instead, and nothing more. He did not have to incur the expense of extending the street.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin