Brakes fail on effort to stop speed limit increase

BG resident Jack Schell asks City Council to reconsider plans to increase speed limit on West Poe Road.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

The effort to increase the speed limit on the far east and west ends of Poe Road hit a speed bump Monday evening, then kept on going.

Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to change the speed limit from 35 to 45 mph on West Poe Road from Lafayette Boulevard to the city limits, and on East Poe Road from North College Avenue to Mercer Road.

But a resident of Lafayette Avenue, at West Poe Road, asked council to put the brakes on any speed increase.

“I really feel that people are already going 45,” and the speed change will encourage them to drive even faster, Jack Schell said.

Schell said there have been multiple vehicle accidents this year, including a car that ended up in the ditch by his home, and another that stopped in his neighbor’s backyard.

He suggested that instead of bumping up the speed at Lafayette, that it be increased further west at Legacy Drive.

“I think speed is going to be a problem,” Schell said.

The change was suggested by the city traffic commission based on the results of a traffic study, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett.

The studies on both ends of Poe Road looked at ODOT guidelines for the 85th percentile speed of traffic – which is the basic factor in setting speed limits. This is the speed that 85 percent of the drivers were at based upon the study, and has been determined by ODOT to be the speed at which the “average” driver feels comfortable driving in that area.

The speed studies also consider factors such as the number of driveways, number of crashes and traffic volume. The data collected showed that a speed limit increase was warranted in both sections of Poe Road.

Police Chief Tony Hetrick said bumping up the speed limits makes sense.

“It seems logical, it’s a reasonable speed to be traveling,” Hetrick said last month.

After questions from City Council members, Fawcett said that while the city has some control, setting speed limits is addressed in the Ohio Revised Code. Council member Bill Herald asked about the city staying with the lower speed until Legacy Drive.

City attorney Mike Marsh said that would make such a small part of West Poe Road at 45 mph, that it would be hard to enforce. Also traffic tickets could be challenged since the study encompassed the larger area.

Council member Bruce Jeffers said his preference would be to limit all city streets to 25 mph – but it doesn’t work that way.

“If I’d have my druthers, we’d all just go a lot slower,” Jeffers said.

But the traffic commission based its decision on several factors including the speed study, he said.

“They don’t take their work lightly,” Jeffers said.

Though council voted unanimously for the speed increase, Herald suggested it would be “prudent” for the city to take another look at the issue in about six months to see if the speed should remain at 45 mph.

Also at Monday’s meeting, council member Greg Robinette talked about paring down the Community Action Plan into some manageable chunks.

He asked that prior to the next meeting all council members submit lists of their top short-, medium- and long-range goals in the plan. Council will then prioritize the top goals, he said.

“There is a lot of meat in that report,” council president Mike Aspacher said.

Mayor Dick Edwards presents Fair Housing Act proclamation to Margaret Montague of the Human Relations Commission.

In other business:

  • Mayor Dick Edwards presented a resolution honoring the Fair Housing Act, adopted in 1968, to Margaret Montague, a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission. “I think this is as important as ever now,” Montague said.
  • Mary Hinkelman, managing director for Downtown BG, talked about the Art Walk planned downtown on April 28.
  • Edwards reported the city has earned its 38th consecutive Tree City Award, and its 24th award for growth. “There’s such pride in our trees in this community,” the mayor said.
  • Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said the summer activity brochure is on the website, and the printed version will be available soon. Resident registration will begin April 30, and non-resident sign up will start May 14.
  • Council learned the State of the City will be presented May 1, at 8 a.m., in the Wood County District Public Library.
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