January 18, 2010 MILTON - For subdivisions demanding speed humps and other traffic calming devices on their streets, Milton may have some bad news.
At last week's council work session, the consensus was residents would pay for traffic calming devices.
There is no way to reduce the volume of traffic, but speeds can be controlled.
Homeowners' associations (HOAs) have petitioned the city to install speed bumps and similar devices to slow vehicles down. Milton's current traffic calming policy does not specifically address such petitions.
"We have serious problems regarding speeders in our neighborhood. The speeding is atrocious,"said Bret Cole of the Hopewell Plantation HOA.
According to Cole, Hopewell Plantation serves as an oft-used shortcut for traffic. "There's no way of controlling that right now," he added.
To combat this problem, Public Works Director Carter Lucas proposed a series of changes to the policy to formalize and regulate a system for accepting applications for traffic calming devices. Under his suggestions, an application would go like this: A formal request for speed control measures is made of the city.
City employees would then go out and conduct a traffic study to determine if the street meets traffic volume limits (between 400 and 4,000 vehicles a day) and if 15 percent of those vehicles speed in excess of 10 mph the posted limit.
If the road is eligible, an application fee is paid and residents sign a petition of approval (which requires 75 percent of the affected residents' signatures). The city designs and then installs it.
The questions put before council were "how fast is too fast?" and "how much should the subdivision pay?"
Under the current guidelines, of the 11 subdivisions that have requested traffic calming measures, only seven met the traffic volume requirements. Of those, most speeds on the roads were clocked in at between 5 mph and 8 mph over the speed limit. Only White Columns subdivision had speeds much higher – the average there was a full 16 mph too fast. Council was unanimous in their support of making the speeding threshold between 5 mph and 8 mph, which would allow most of the other subdivisions to apply.
Of more concern was cost. Speed control measures, depending on the design and material, cost between $2,000 and $5,000, said Lucas.
By attaching a fee to the approval process and requiring HOAs to foot some of the bill, the city can weed out those communities that are not entirely serious about putting in the measures. According to Lucas, a cheap material, such as rubber, would be covered 50-50 by the city and the subdivision. For anything different – such as brick – the HOA would fund the difference.
Council member Karen Thurman raised to question of installing such measures on open roads, where speeding is just as much of a problem as in the subdivisions.
"In south Florida they have them [traffic calming devices] everywhere you go,"said Thurman. "And some of those roads are more than 35 mph."
Mayor Joe Lockwood agreed. "My road is 35 mph and myself and my neighbors would love to put speed calming devices on our road, but it's not a neighborhood," he said. "We'd open a can of worms if we went [putting traffic calming devices on roads with speed limits] over 35 miles an hour."
City attorney Ken Jarrard said Milton must comply with Georgia law for what is safe to put in the road.