The push for a lower speed limit in residential neighborhoods may have died at the latest Town Council meeting. After a staff report presented by Deputy Town Manager Doug Peach, it was strongly advised to the council not to pursue adding speed bumps or lowering the speed limit in any capacity.
In an effort that has been charged by Councilman Tony Singh, the staff was directed to look into the viability of lowering speed limits or any methods of minimizing speeding in residential neighborhoods. Instead, staff pushed back on this initiative and said the best way forward was to have police enforce the current speed limits.
“There are limitations to what our local government can do on this issue. Quite often people think we have the authority to do whatever we want to do, but that is not necessarily true,” Peach said.
State law mandates that the only reason a residential street can be lowered from the 30 mph threshold would be due to overwhelming safety concerns. There are also stipulations that say the speed limit cannot be lowered on streets where parking is prohibited on the sides. These roads are often those close to schools and parks, the same streets where residents often want to lower speed limits.
Singh wanted to see the speed limit reduced to 25 mph, but the staff did not see the merit in this argument. The staff report indicated that lowering a speed limit is not a deterrent for a potential speeder. They also said that in order for a speed limit change to go into effect, there must be signs posted of the change at every segment of the street. This could mean there would be four to six signs on every street going in, an almost impossible endeavor.
“I did a quick math on this, and it costs the town $160 to install a sign. We have 1,100 roads, and at the minimum this would be a $350,000 project if we lowered the speed limit across the town,” Peach said. “We would likely have to contract this out since our staff is light in this area, and there would be more signs than just one or two per street. It would most likely be over the half million dollar threshold.”
Staff also said they saw “no evidence to support the current speed limit is unsafe or unreasonable.” They concluded that “enforcement is the best method to ensure drivers maintain speed conditions.”
“If a person is going 45 in a neighborhood, they know they are breaking the law. I don’t think it will make a difference lowering it from 30 mph to 25,” Mayor David Hillock said.
Speed bumps were also nixed by the staff as a good option going forward. According to staff, speed bumps created environmental concerns with increased stopping and starting for cars. It also had a limited impact on cars reducing their speed overall in neighborhoods. Peach brought up the fact that emergency response vehicles would be impacted with speed bumps.
“So it sounds like the only solution is people calling the town and saying they have a problem,” Singh said. “I would just make sure that if people are reaching out that the town gets back to them.”
“Enforcement is really the best method here,” Peach said.