If someone wants the speed limit on a residential street in The Colony to change they better hope the most of their neighbors feel the same way.
During last week's meeting The Colony City Council directed the staff to amend its process for changing speed limits on residential streets.
Going forward a request for a speed limit change must come from the homeowners association after a vote from its members. Currently a request can be made without HOA approval.
The prima facie speed limit for residential streets, per the Texas Transportation Code and the city's ordinance, is 30 mph.
Per the city's ordinance a traffic study must take place before the city lowers the speed limit as requested by a resident, and the council must adopt the speed limit change. The study would determine the 85th percentile speed – the speed at which 85 percent of the motorists are traveling – and then set a limit within 5 mph of that speed.
An exception could keep the city from having to use a study. The exception exists if the road is a two-lane undivided roadway where the council determines the prima facie speed limit is unreasonable or unsafe. With the exception the council could lower the speed limit to 25 mph.
City Manager Troy Powell initially brought up the idea of having an HOA request the change.
“That represents all of the homeowners,” Powell said. “That way, if we put the request on the HOA it lets us know the majority of the homeowners want the change.”
Mayor Joe McCourry took it one step further, saying the vote of its members should take place before the HOA makes the request.
“It ought to be a vote of the membership of the HOA and not just come from the HOA board so that you're not still listening to less than a dozen people,” McCourry said, “and they have an actual vote so they are representing the wishes of the community.”
The discussion came after Councilman Brian Wade received several requests from residents in the Austin Waters subdivision, which his district includes, to lower the speed limit on its streets from 30 mph to 25 mph and in some cases 20 mph.
Ron Hartline, director of engineering, said the city has received several complaints from Austin Waters residents over the years about speeding, especially along Barton Creek Boulevard, adjacent to the community pool.
He said to address the concerns the city has installed a crosswalk to help slow traffic. He said speed limit signs were also installed about two weeks ago.
Hartline said the city could conduct a speed study in the neighborhood, but he said that would cost between $5,000 and $18,000.
Hartline said the speed limit requests aren't limited to Austin Waters. He said in some neighborhoods the city has installed “slow neighborhood” signs at the subdivision entry points to remind residents of the 30 mph speed limit.
Hartline said in The Tribute neighborhood the city posted 30 mph signs on Richmond. He said the city hasn't had many complaints since then.
Hartline added that lowering the speed limits doesn't always translate to safer traffic, saying most people will drive the speed limit they're comfortable with.
He added, “There may be little or no significant change in speeds following the posting of a revised speed limit.”
Hartline said another consideration is the installation of signs and poles in yards they don't currently exist, and he said there may be an issue of residents not wanting the sign in their yard, even though it would be within the right-of-way.
He said it would cost approximately $280 per sign to be installed.