Engineers say they have reduced speed, volume of vehicles

LARGO — One of the biggest complaints the city receives each year involves vehicles speeding in residential neighborhoods, according to elected officials and staff. 

Much of that speeding is a result of drivers darting through side streets in an attempt to avoid busy intersections like the one at West Bay Drive and Clearwater-Largo Road. 

In an effort to combat that behavior, the city’s first 11 speed tables were installed this past year on seven streets in neighborhoods between West Bay Drive and Mehlenbacher Road and the Pinellas Trail and Clearwater-Largo Road.

A study completed in August proves that pilot project is paying off, city engineers told commissioners Dec. 17.

“The results of the pilot study show an improvement to both the speeding and volume counts,” said Rafal Cieslak, assistant director of the Engineering Services department. “Five of the streets showed a decrease in both speeding and volume, and two of the streets showed a decrease in speeding and a slight increase in volume. The results of the study do not warrant any additional improvements on the streets being evaluated.”

According to staff, the analysis showed that speeds reduced by an average of 18%.

Cieslak said most residents didn’t like the idea of having speed tables in front of their property, but they couldn’t argue with the results.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback,” he said. “With change, there was some people not happy with it, but we have had follow-up with them, and they have come back and said thank you, there’s an improvement. They feel safer.”

Commissioner Curtis Holmes said data on the traffic volume proved there’s a problem with cut-through traffic in those areas — especially Howard Drive Northwest, which had more than 1,000 cars travel on it in the study’s 24-hour timeframe.

“These residents, they were justified in getting this stuff calmed down,” he said.

Speed limit reductions

Concerns over speeding in neighborhoods even led commissioners to consider reducing residential speed limits to 25 mph citywide earlier this year. They eventually decided on a new system that would allow concerned citizens to apply for a reduction. 

Megan Dion, program engineer for Engineering Services, said the process is making progress, with five locations completing applications.

Four of the neighborhoods, however, are still in the petition phase of the process, which requires 60% of the property owners to agree.

• Cambridge Drive has 23%;

• Sixth Avenue Northwest has 56%;

• Ridge Road Southwest has 43%;

• Dart Avenue/East Overbrook Drive area had difficulty garnering support and are no longer moving forward;

• El De Oro Drive neighborhood was set to begin petitioning after the holidays. 

While the petition phase is still being tweaked, which includes staff mailing out petitions, Dion said she is pleased with the system thus far.  

“The speed reduction pilot process is having great results,” she said. “We’ve got positive feedback from both citizens and staff.”

SOURCE: tbnweekly.com