A dozen residents interested in traffic-calming measures planned for La Mancha Avenue attended a meeting at the Royal Palm Beach Village Meeting Hall on Thursday, April 26.
Royal Palm Beach Village Engineer Chris Marsh and Traffic Engineer Bryan Kelley with the engineering firm Simmons & White gave an overview of the project and explained the voting procedure, which ends May 10, describing the pros and cons of the traffic-calming tables and answered questions from the public.
The voting is currently in progress and results will be split into two segments on La Mancha Avenue from the break lines of south of Madrid Street and north of Madrid Street.
La Mancha Avenue residents must submit or mail in their ballot to the Village Clerk’s Office by no later than the close of business on May 10, or they can vote in person at the Village Clerk’s Office, with no ballot required. A driver’s license or government-issued photo ID with the resident’s address will be required.
Results will be tallied and published on the village’s web site by no later than June 1. If 50 percent plus one of the residents vote in favor of the traffic-calming plan, it will be placed on the June 21 agenda for final approval by the Royal Palm Beach Village Council. With council approval, design and construction will then be scheduled.
Marsh explained that in October 2016 concerned citizens came forward and the idea for traffic calming in Royal Palm Beach began.
“Our goal was to look at what other municipalities were doing, not only in the county, but at the state level and the federal level, on what they would do on problematic roadways and the type of systems they were installing to slow people down,” he said.
Marsh presented that data to the council in February 2017, and it was decided that they consider four roadways within Royal Palm Beach: Sandpiper Avenue, Sparrow Drive, Ponce de Leon Street and La Mancha Avenue.
Traffic calming has since been implemented on Sandpiper Avenue.
If the vote is approved, La Mancha Avenue would be the second street with traffic calming.
Kelley gave a PowerPoint presentation and explained the definition of traffic calming.
“Traffic calming is the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior and improve conditions for non-motorized street users,” he said. “It’s putting in some sort of physical constraint to lower speeds.”
Once implemented, officials will follow up to make sure that the measures are working as intended.
“Traffic calming reduces speeding and cut-through traffic on local collector roadways, provides consistent and predictable criteria to support the use of traffic-control devices, and justifies continued use of traffic control devices on traffic-calmed streets,” Kelley said. “Traffic calming benefits are reduced speeding, reduced cut-through traffic, more consistent vehicle speeds, and improved safety and quality of life.”
Kelley also explained that there are negatives to traffic calming.
“Traffic calming negatives are that the tables slow down emergency response, increase travel times, cost money, require maintenance, and there is noise and discomfort for drivers crossing them,” he said.
The speed tables being considered are 22 feet long, three-and-a-half inches high, spaced 260 to 500 feet apart and can reduce speed by seven to eight miles per hour.
In order to get to the current vote stage, the La Mancha Avenue project needed to get past a number of hurdles.
“A request comes in from the residents, and the ability to evaluate is important,” Kelley said. “There is a list of preliminary assessments that have to be based on traffic volumes, the speed limit of the roadway and a few other things. If the roadway meets that, then there has to be a 33 percent resident approval of initial support for it.”
The council decided to go ahead with the study for La Mancha Avenue in early 2017.
“We identified the roadways, and from there we started the traffic study,” he said. “We did a lot of data collection and conducted a study to see if it met the village policy requirements. La Mancha met the criteria. That is why we are here today.”
If a resident on La Mancha doesn’t vote, that counts as a no for traffic calming.
“I can tell you that within our traffic study, on the miles per hour traffic study, the drivers surpassed the requirements in speed and the number of drivers as well,” Kelley said.
The traffic calming is not designed to stop traffic, but rather slow it down.
“This is not your commercial speed bump,” Kelley said. “The tables are made so that you can go at a reasonable speed. It is going to depend on your comfort level as a driver and your type of vehicle. For some that may be 25 miles per hour, for some 20 and others 15 miles per hour.”
Spacing between them is critical.
“The whole idea is that if you space them out 1,500 feet, studies have shown that people speed up in between the speed tables,” Kelley said. “When installed with spacing under 500 feet, the studies show that they will reduce speeds effectively and efficiently.”