The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council discussed what model to use for speed humps Tuesday in preparation for paving and resurfacing several town roads.
The council may decide as early as next month on a design for the humps as it takes over control of paved roads from the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District and assumes maintenance and paving responsibilities.
Speed humps have been an ongoing issue since the LGWCD paved portions of A, C and D roads with open-graded emulsion mix (OGEM), installing the bumps every 500 feet to control speed and keep people from driving into the canals. The bumps were chosen instead of more expensive guardrails separating the roads and the canals.
The speed humps have raised complaints from residents who say they are annoying and difficult for some vehicles to negotiate.
LGWCD officials have defended the traffic control devices, maintaining that they are built to current engineering standards and provide a defense against liability to drivers who wind up in the canals.
“My intent was to raise the issue so we can actually conclude it,” said Councilman Jim Rockett, who put the topic on the agenda. “We’ve talked about it, and we know it’s coming.”
Rockett said the council needs to know the criteria for speed bumps or speed tables in order to discuss contractors’ road improvement bids.
“We’ve talked about speed humps or speed tables that are out to our west,” Rockett said, referring to ones installed in The Acreage on Sycamore Drive. “I think they are a great example of what we can adopt. Various council members at different times have commented about how far apart they are or should be.”
Rockett added that the council will have to decide how to improve B Road from Okeechobee Blvd. to Southern Blvd. as construction begins at the new Palm Beach State College campus.
“I think it’s time to make a determination as to what we would adopt as a speed table device, and to me there’s no better way than to figure out what we might like than to take an example,” he said, adding that he prefers the humps on Sycamore near Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.
Rockett suggested that his colleagues visit the area and test them out. “I’ve asked the council before to take your vehicles out there,” he said.
Rockett said he is especially concerned because he has negotiated the speed humps on the lettered roads with his nursery truck. “It was a 5-mile-an-hour speed hump, not a 30-mile-an-hour speed hump,” he said.
Rockett suggested speed tables rather than speed humps, spaced about 1,000 feet apart rather than 500 feet. “That would make it much easier to drive over and still maintain a minimum speed,” he said. “Next meeting we can vote on it, but I’d like to discuss it.”
Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel agreed that the council should pick a model to follow. “I definitely think we need to come up with what we’re going to do,” Jarriel said. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time. I don’t know about next council meeting.”
Jarriel said he would like for the town manager to look at the speed tables on Sycamore off Seminole Pratt. “They’re the best that we’ve got in the area,” he said. “I’d like to find out who did those.”
Jarriel said he would also like to get cost estimates before a decision is made, and find out whether the town can get discounts for multiple roads. “We need to look at those contractors,” he said. “We definitely need the one who did Sycamore, and we need to know the cost per speed table. That will give the council some idea of what we’re jumping into.”
He noted that plans are coming up for paving or resurfacing of Collecting Canal, Compton and Bryan roads, as well as Marcella Blvd. “There’s not going to be that many speed tables on them, especially if we don’t put them 500 feet apart,” he said.
Jarriel agreed that they need to come up with a plan quickly. “I agree with Jim for the simple fact that we’ve got them 500 feet apart. We’re punishing our residents with what we’ve got,” he said. “We did it for a reason, but the truth of the matter is if we want to keep people out of the canals, and we want to stop speeders, give residents a decent road, and for people who want to abuse that road, pay the PBSO extra to write tickets and stop it.”
Town Manager Mark Kutney said he understood the council’s desire to move quickly. “We’re going to be taking over the roads from the district,” he said. “The issues with speed humps are the type of speed humps being utilized and the distance issues.”
Kutney suggested having a traffic engineer look at the situation. “We are very close to having our traffic engineer on board,” he said. “One of the things we could do — and I don’t think it would be a very expensive study — is to have him go out and look at road conditions. I’ve been told the district used a study based upon the Institute of Traffic Engineers, but I think since we’re going to have maintenance issues, it would behoove us to at least have a study done so we can get a recommendation.”
Mayor Dave Browning said he did not want to create a safety issue with speed tables that would allow drivers to go faster. “Some humps are worse than others,” Browning said. “On D Road, I’ve watched people on a fairly regular basis going 45 miles an hour down the road, and it doesn’t seem like it slows them down at all. I don’t want to see them jumping up to 60… I would love to say we’ll just put the deputies out there to write tickets, but in reality, that’s hard to do.”
Browning agreed with Kutney that they should have the traffic engineer examine them, taking into consideration the roads’ proximity to the canals.
But Rockett said he did not want to wait for another engineer’s report before making a decision.
“When we had dirt roads, we had no speed humps and the speed was unlimited,” he said. “We added OGEM. “We’ve said this before, roads with OGEM are safer without speed humps than dirt roads were.”
Council members agreed to gather more information and have a more complete discussion on the issue next month.