Neighbors ask town to lower speed limit

More than a dozen Front Royal residents say speeding drivers create a danger along their narrow street.

Residents of West 1st Street recently submitted a petition to Town Council asking that officials reduce the posted speed limit of 25 mph to 20 mph or lower. Petitioners also asked that town police step up patrols along their street used by many as a shortcut to West Main Street via Massie Avenue. Several of the petitioners spoke to council Monday, reiterating their request.

Longtime West 1st Street resident Holland Daniels said Thursday that he and neighbors have tried for years to get the town to address the problem. Most residents on the street signed the petition “is pretty well fed up with what’s going on,” Daniels said. He pointed out that the speed limit on their street is the same as many wider, heavily used routes through town.

“I know that at least three – myself and two of my neighbors have been to the police department numerous times or called the police department numerous times trying to get some relief on this issue and nothing really ever happens,” Daniels said. “You’ll see somebody show up one time and that’s it.”

But Daniels voiced optimism that police, town officials and council might come up with a solution.

“We want to give the town a chance to respond properly,” Daniels said.

Daniels has suggested that the town go further by studying how development of the former Avtex Fibers site will impact traffic around the area. He pointed out that suggestion to council.

“Sounds to me like they’re getting the cart ahead of the horse in some aspects,” Daniels said.

Mayor Timothy Darr said Thursday that Town Manager Steve Burke and other staff members are looking into the request and to come up with options and recommendations he’ll present to council at a future work session.

“We did take their concerns very seriously and we are looking at seeing what we can do,” Darr said. “There’s a lot of things we can do that I think [Virginia Department of Transportation] will not allow us to do, and the town – just regular traffic laws and rules.”

Darr acknowledged that the long, narrow road leading up to Randolph-Macon Academy also serves as a cut-through for many motorists who take West 1st Street to Massey Avenue and then to West Main Street. Darr noted that in most cases the speeding vehicles travel up the hill toward the school.

“It’s not your normal street, that’s for sure,” Darr said.

The petition states that due to the residents’ concern for the public’s safety, they ask that the town lower the speed limit on West 1st Street, between Massey and Virginia avenues. Reasons stated in the petition include: narrow street with no sidewalk; an unusually high volume of traffic; a considerable number of pedestrians, including children and students walking to and from Randolph-Macon Academy and E.W. Morrison Elementary School. Additionally, joggers, walkers, cyclists and skaters use the street.

The petition also notes that numerous animals and pets have been injured and killed on the street by drivers traveling at high speeds.

Aaron Baer and his wife, Elizabeth, live on West 1st Street. Aaron Baer told council that they’ve had concerns with speeding traffic on the road since they moved to their home 10 years ago. The Baers lost a family dog in 2008 when a speeding vehicle struck their pet, he said.

Doug Ichiugi and his wife have lived on West 1st Street for 14 years. Ichiugi told council he feared for the safety of the children who live on the street. Ichiugi recommended the town reduce the speed limit to any amount below 20 miles per hour but urged for more stringent enforcement.

Daniels told council speeding has been a concern since he’s lived there. The Danielses have seen increased traffic and speeding vehicles but no enforcement of the limit, he said. The introduction of the Soccerplex, skate park and a housing project nearby has led to increased traffic on the street, Daniels said.

“It is not a bypass; it is not a thoroughfare and should not be treated as such,” Daniels told council, adding that he has seen cars travel on the street in excess of 50 miles per hour.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com