In a 3-2 decision, the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday postponed a proposal to adopt speed hump designs installed in The Acreage as a standard for the town, preferring to let the Intergovernmental Coordination Committee work out a standard for discussion at a Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District workshop in September.
Speed humps have become a controversial town topic after a recent LGWCD paving project on A, C and D roads left several residents complaining about the humps.
Vice Mayor Jim Rockett asked that The Acreage’s model be considered for future paving projects, explaining that the speed humps installed by the district are incompatible with vehicles common to Loxahatchee Groves, including the box truck he drives to transport plants for his nursery.
In a letter to Town Manager Mark Kutney, Rockett wrote that he would like to instead consider the design of the speed humps on two Acreage segments — between 140th Avenue North and Avocado Blvd. on 44th Place North, and on Persimmon Blvd.
Each half-mile of paved road contains two speed humps spaced 800 or 900 feet apart, Rockett wrote. The humps are about 38 feet wide and appear to be about 4 inches high. Those in the Groves are about 13 to 14 feet wide and 4 or 5 inches high.
“At the speed humps on many of these [district] roads, you need to go 10 to 12 miles an hour, in some cases less because of a loaded truck with plants,” he told council members Tuesday.
Rockett added that the speed humps in The Acreage seem to work better for other utility vehicles such as pickup trucks and dual-wheel vehicles. “Those represent the type of vehicles we have in Loxahatchee Groves,” he said. “I was hoping we could make some determination as to a speed hump being adopted, and come to an agreement whether to adopt this as a standard.”
Mayor Dave Browning said he likes the speed humps in The Acreage, with some caveats. “My concerns are several,” Browning said. “They don’t have canals on the side of the road, and they’re right there at a stop sign. I’m on D Road. I don’t like the speed humps and don’t like the signs at the speed humps; but at the same time, I see people going 50 miles an hour over them, so I have concerns about anything less.”
Browning also questioned whether the existing speed humps in Loxahatchee Groves would have to be redesigned if the council adopts something else as a standard.
Councilman Tom Goltzené said he saw merit to Rockett’s idea. “Personally, I think the fewer speed bumps the better, but there are still people going 50 on them,” Goltzené said. “If people are idiots, you can’t fix it. Personally, I’m not really convinced that speed humps do anything one way or the other, but I would be in favor of less.”
Councilman Ron Jarriel said the district humps were installed for safety and to protect the district and the town from liability. “When it comes time that this council can take full liability for the speed humps that go on these roads and relieve the water control district of that liability, I don’t think they have a problem with that and I don’t have a problem with it,” he said.
Jarriel cautioned that if the council does away with the speed humps or redesigns them, it must accept the liability. “These speed humps were spaced at a certain distance, they were engineered at a certain height and width mainly to keep a person going 30 miles per hour,” he said.
Jarriel said he is aware that numerous people are driving recklessly on the roads, endangering themselves and others. “When they end up in a canal, when… we have to go fight because they… sue us because of our speed humps and our pavement, I think we stand a better chance in court winning our case when we explain to the judge that basically, these are less than 30-mile-an-hour humps,” he said.
Jarriel said he also liked the humps on Sycamore Drive. “They look good and they’re 30-mile-an-hour humps,” he said.
Jarriel questioned the costs behind redesigning the standards. He said he would also like to find out from an engineer whether the existing humps could be redesigned and what the cost would be.
LGWCD Supervisor John Ryan said the district gave a lot of thought to how to treat the road surfaces and control speed, pointing out that the roads in The Acreage under discussion do not have canals next to them.
“I think that people need to understand these are rural roads,” Ryan said. “In some cases, they are one lane wide. We can’t totally control reckless people, but what we’ve got is a combination of a professional engineering consultant and the Institute of Transportation Engineers that have given us the dimensions of speed humps and spacing to control speed.”
Ryan warned of the legal consequences behind changes. “We’ve had lawsuits on dirt roads that the district has had to defend from the standpoint of responsible maintenance,” he said. “We now have a much-improved road surface, and the speed humps and their spacing is our legal defense.”
Ryan said the LGWCD has a workshop scheduled tentatively for the third weekend in September to discuss turning the roads with speed humps over to the town. “I think we’re getting more and more to the point where most of the district roads are going to be capable of being turned over to the town, subject not only to the town’s traffic control, but the town’s responsibility for the roads,” he said.
Rockett said his intention was not to re-engineer existing roads but to adopt a standard for future projects, pointing out that the speed humps in The Acreage were also designed by engineers. “I’m just trying to apply it to the vehicles that we have,” he said. “You have taken everybody that has a box truck and penalized them.”
Rockett made a motion to adopt the speed humps that are seen on 44th Place North and Persimmon Blvd. as a standard, with the understanding that the intention is not to rework existing roads in the town. The motion was seconded by Councilman Ryan Liang. It failed 3-2, with Jarriel, Browning and Goltzené opposed.
Jarriel said he would like the town-district Intergovernmental Coordination Committee to discuss a standard and prepare a discussion for the September workshop.
Rockett pointed out that the participants at that committee meeting would be himself, Kutney, Ryan and LGWCD Administrator Clete Saunier.