The Indian Trail Improvement Board of Supervisors last week directed staff to broaden its traffic calming pilot project to Hall and Tangerine boulevards after a successful test on 140th Avenue North.
At the board’s April 25, meeting Joe Capra of Captec Engineering said that traffic calming started in 2015 as a result of numerous traffic accidents in The Acreage. ITID contracted with his firm to research the issue, and it has come up with a conceptual plan for traffic calming.
“The study was based on a significant number of accidents on 140th Avenue North, Key Lime Blvd. and Hall Blvd.,” he said.
Although ITID has no police power to enforce traffic regulations or put in traffic signals, it can introduce traffic calming in an attempt to control traffic.
“We started this in May 2015. We adopted a conceptual plan for Avocado,” Capra said. “We outlined some reasons for improvements. We outlined some limitations for improvements, but this study was based on accidents.”
Capra said that the policy includes the ability for residents to petition for traffic calming, but the traffic calming so far has been an experiment to see its effectiveness.
“Back in 2016, we built a raised median with a separator on 140th just south of Hamlin Blvd.,” he said. “It could probably be a little more disruptive to people. The bottom line is we spent a lot of money on it, and I’m not sure everybody feels that’s a great way to spend money.”
Capra explained that in 2017, he looked at less-expensive options and came up with a traffic calming pilot program using temporary rubber speed cushions that could be relocated, along with traffic circles and lighted radar speed signs.
“Currently, on 140th, we’ve installed two of these speed cushions,” he said. “These are inexpensive traffic devices. We put them in a residential neighborhood. Our goal is to install all of them in a systematic pattern one right after the other. We want to check out after six months and see if they are effective in slowing people down. Typically, the roads we are talking about are 40 mph roads. People are traveling much faster, so we put these things in their way.”
He emphasized that the speed cushions are reusable, although they are a burden for ITID staff, which has to move them around.
Capra added that Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue has problems with the cushions because they have difficulty getting emergency vehicles over them safely.
“We can make adjustments and take some of the rubber strips out… so they can go down the middle of the road,” he said.
The studies were based on traffic accidents from 2009 to 2017. Hall Blvd. from Northlake Blvd. to Orange Blvd. has had 126 accidents. On 140th Avenue, there have been 139 accidents, based on Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reports.
“There are a substantial number of accidents,” Capra said. “The bottom line is people are getting in accidents there, and most of them have to do with speed.”
He said traffic calming that has been installed previously has been successful in slowing down traffic, but many drivers have adjusted their routes to roads that do not yet have calming devices.
“We know that once we start putting in traffic calming on all these roads, there’s not going to be any place to get around,” he said.
Capra suggested three areas to expand the pilot project: 140th Avenue North, which is already underway with speed cushions, Hall Blvd. and Key Lime Blvd.
He proposed adding a traffic circle on 140th Avenue North at Temple Blvd. to augment the two cushions in place there.
“Your staff has acquired all of the material,” Capra said. “There are some issues with that intersection as far as fraying of asphalt on the side. We’re going to fix that before we put the circle in place.”
A lighted radar sign will also be put in place to inform people how fast they’re going, and rubber hose counters will be added to record the number of vehicles, as well as their speed. He noted that the calming devices will be a little farther apart than what is normally considered effective.
“We try to stretch the limit as far as how far apart to put them,” Capra said. “We are trying to figure out the best place to put them. We’ll measure the speed after they are all put in place.”
He also suggested a similar calming pattern on Key Lime and Hall boulevards with less separation of devices. The cost for the Key Lime corridor would be about $60,000, not including the cost of installation. The cost of materials for the Hall Blvd. corridor would be about $40,000.
“That’s significantly less than to build permanent ones,” Capra said, adding that he would prefer to see the results on 140th before proceeding with the other two through roads. “I think these are three roads that have seen a lot of accidents that need to be addressed.”
District Manager Rob Robinson said that the rubber humps could be taken down some to meet the needs of PBCFR but still slow down vehicles.
Supervisor Carol Jacobs noted that some drivers go around the cushions and are tearing up the side of the road. She questioned the lifespan of the rubber cushions. “The rubber already looks like it’s tearing apart,” Jacobs said.
ITID President Betty Argue said obstacles such as signs could be put at the side of the humps to prevent people from driving on the side of the road. Capra suggested palm trees to be more aesthetic.
Argue also asked about reducing the speed limit on those corridor roads from 40 mph to 30 mph, and lowering the recommended speed to go over the cushions from 30 mph to 20 mph.
Capra said there is a code that approves lowering the speed limit in residential neighborhoods to 30 mph but predicted that ITID would get a lot of pushback from drivers who don’t want to slow down on through roads, as well as resistance from Palm Beach County, but Argue insisted that the speed should be reduced.
“We need to lower the speed limit at least on those roads,” she said. “We need to be working with the county to get these speeds reduced. These are residential neighborhoods.”
Argue suggested giving direction to Capra and Robinson to move forward with traffic calming on Hall and Key Lime boulevards, and to work with the county and the PBSO to get the speed limit lowered on all three roads, and the board agreed.