Saratoga Blvd. Misses RPB Threshold For Traffic Calming

A newly constructed speed hump on Sandpiper Avenue near Bobbie Jo Lauter Park in RPB.

The Village of Royal Palm Beach released its traffic calming request final report for Saratoga Blvd. West last week. The roadway did not meet the village minimum requirements for traffic calming devices on the portion of the road that was reviewed.

The village’s engineering department continues to consider traffic calming on residential streets for those who have petitioned for the village-wide traffic calming initiative.

“We received a petition for traffic calming on June 10, 2017 via e-mail,” Village Engineer Chris Marsh said. “At that time, we did the preliminary assessment to see if the driveways had direct access, if it was between 1,000 and 3,000 trips, the speed limit was 30 miles per hour or less and if the segment was 800 feet in length. It did meet those initial criteria that was established by our policy.”

Once a neighborhood street reaches the completion of that phase, the village provides the resident who asked for the preliminary study a map and a petition. The resident must obtain 33 percent, signed support by neighbors on the petitioned roadway.

“[They] took the petition and did get the 33 percent support in order for us to move to the next step, which would be to hire a traffic consultant, which we did,” Marsh said.

The engineering firm involved with the traffic calming study continues to be Simmons & White, based in West Palm Beach. They conduct a study and submit a final detailed report to the engineering department.

“That report was completed Feb. 14,” Marsh said. “Essentially, the speeds on the roadway did not meet the criteria to implement traffic calming.”

There was only one segment in the final report that showed speeds on Saratoga Blvd. that met the 85th percentile, which would meet criteria for traffic calming.

“The segment west of Chestnut Court just met the 85th percentile speed threshold for the eastbound direction but not the westbound direction,” the report stated. “When taking into account the averages for both directions and all three study locations, the average 85th percentile speed is 33 mph for Saratoga Blvd. in the subject area.”

None of the three locations on Saratoga Blvd. met the required speeds, which ultimately resulted in the roadway not meeting the requirements for traffic calming speed humps or other devices.

A new petition for traffic calming cannot be processed for that roadway for five years.

Marsh explained the waiting period is thought out and serves a financial purpose.

“This process is time consuming, and it costs real dollars to go out there and get the traffic counts and then have an engineer perform the study and generate the report,” Marsh said. “If you were to increase the frequency, then obviously this would become a very expensive line item in the village, if we had roads that we had just studied, someone had petitioned, and we had to continue to go back to the process.”

Marsh said there are possibilities his department would review a past petitioned roadway sooner than the five-year period.

We have criteria for traffic calming,” Marsh said. “If there were outside conditions that suddenly changed the traffic patterns on the roadway, and the volume of traffic, certainly our staff would look at those changed conditions. Obviously, we can make decisions to reevaluate roads prior to that five-year period.”

La Mancha Avenue is the next road whose residents will receive mailed ballots for traffic calming in Royal Palm Beach. A study was conducted for the street, but the vote was delayed so those residents can visit Sandpiper Avenue, since it is now the first street to have speed humps installed for traffic calming.

“People who would want to see what the finished product would look like, I encourage them to drive down Sandpiper, so they can get to feel what it would be like to drive over on a daily basis,” Marsh said.

Marsh said the ballots should be sent out in about two weeks with a special meeting likely to be held in the middle of April for the La Mancha portion being considered for traffic calming.

Dove Circle and Starling Avenue in the Willows are actively petitioning for traffic calming engineering studies.

As the village continues to review petitioned roadways for traffic calming, Marsh is confident in the current policy.

“In a situation where the majority of the village is built out, and we don’t have a lot of changes that we anticipate on our roadway network… I think five years does make sense to limit that and be responsible with the limited resources that we have,” he said.