Royal Palm Beach Village Manager Ray Liggins gave an update last week on the status of a traffic-calming study he had been directed to do after residents complained about speeders and accidents on a road through a residential neighborhood used as a cut-through by drivers.
At the Thursday, June 16 meeting, Liggins said that he and Village Engineer Chris Marsh prepared a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a consultant to do a study of all streets in the village and appropriate traffic calming methods.
“It’s not a simple process,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. It has to be done right or it can create a lot of animosity within the community. There’s a lot of engineering that has to go into it.”
Marsh said that the RFQ had been advertised on June 13. Responses are due July 13.
“The targets were to look at neighborhood roads for unnecessary cut-through traffic and speeding,” Marsh said.
He said that the firm hired would be tasked with studying the characteristics of users of the roadways, not just cars, but delivery and service trucks, pedestrians and bicyclists as well, and whether they are local or cut-through.
Marsh said the consultant will also look at public input that the village has received and examine other ways of getting more public input, and also look at accident data.
Once the RFQ deadline passes, Liggins and Marsh will put together a selection committee. Marsh expected to be able to report back with a recommended consultant as early as Aug. 18. “Once we get that firm on, we’ll get their ideas involved and how long the study portion of it would take and how long the implementation would take,” Marsh said.
Liggins said the cost for the consulting services is included in this fiscal year’s budget, but financing for traffic-calming projects would have to be approved in the future.
“When Chris and I looked at funding for the next fiscal year, it would have been a total guess,” he said. “We really have no idea. When you go through the process of getting a consultant on board who is a professional and has experience in traffic calming, it will be a learning process and an enlightening process. We’re asking the consultant to look at everything, the sidewalks or the lack of sidewalks, the other types of traffic calming devices, and identifying the problem. Is there cut-through? Is there speeding?”
Liggins noted that he and Marsh had discussed speeding issues, and whether it was many vehicles going 5 miles an hour over the limit or a few going way over the limit.
“At first we thought it was a whole lot of cars going 35 mph,” he said. “I’m not sure that is as big of a problem as a few cars going 60. These are all the kinds of things that go into identifying the problem, and then the right application to solve the problem.”
Liggins said the consultant and village staff would have to go through that complete process before they would be able to do a budget adjustment.
Mayor Fred Pinto asked whether the village would be able to have something in place before the end of the calendar year, and Liggins said he did not know.
“There are many communities that implement a traffic-calming program, but they don’t have any roads that need it,” Liggins said. “They just have residents who want traffic-calming devices, so we want to make that part of the program, too. Most communities that have that part of the program, if 50 percent of your neighbors within 1,000 feet of the device are in support of having it, then get that petition, pay 50 percent of the cost, and we’ll put it in. Many communities have that program.”
He pointed out that some residents might not be in favor of having traffic-calming devices on their street.
“We are putting a physical object in the road,” Liggins said. “They have to go over it every single day to and from their house.”
Vice Mayor Jeff Hmara said he appreciated the complexity in traffic calming.
“There are downsides to some of these traffic-calming devices that usually aren’t apparent until you put one in place,” Hmara said.
He added that the Metropolitan Planning Organization had discussed temporary traffic calming devices, and Liggins said they have been used in many municipalities. “You can install them and take them up,” Liggins said.
He added that there was a movement in Loxahatchee Groves to install speed bumps on Folsom Road, but there was a subsequent counter-movement of people opposed to the speed bumps that resulted in the town reducing the speed limit instead.
“We want to avoid that,” Liggins said. “We want to identify the problem. Knowing what the characteristics of our streets are, I think we realize there are a lot more delivery trucks in the neighborhoods than there were 10 years ago. The ability of those trucks to go fast may be our problem.”
He said once the consultant gets the information identifying the problems and characteristics of the community, they can make recommendations. “We’ll keep the council involved in that,” Liggins said. “It will be a policy decision on what we actually define to be a problem, and we’ll move through this process this next year.”