Study: Drivers stick to limit

FRONT ROYAL — A traffic study of West 1st Street shows most drivers stick to the speed limit, but some residents don’t buy it.

The town will now go back and conduct a longer speed study of 1st Street with monitoring equipment in other areas to capture more data. A few residents complained to Town Council on Monday that the monitoring performed in May by police and the data collected did not paint an accurate picture of the problem.

Residents petitioned the town to consider lowering the speed limit on the narrow street that some motorists use as a shortcut. Residents claimed they see many drivers exceeding the speed limit, endangering children and other pedestrians who walk in the street.

At council’s work session Monday, Town Manager Steve Burke presented data collected during the monitoring conducted by police and by the Department of Environmental Services in late May. Data showed the 25 mph speed limit is justified, Burke said.

“Again, what we did come across was that, yes, there is an entire traffic volume in that area,” Burke said. “However, we did not experience a significant speeding problem.”

Police monitored traffic on the street on May 12 and found that 40 vehicles traveled from 8 a.m.-8:45 a.m. and 66 vehicles from 2:35 p.m.-3:35 p.m. Data show a high speed of 29 mph in the morning and 30 in the afternoon. On May 13, police monitored the street from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., recorded 97 vehicles and a high speed of 33 mph. Police recorded 48 vehicles from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. May 24 with a high speed of 31 mph. Data from 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. May 28 showed 66 vehicles with a high speed of 32 mph. Average speeds for all monitoring sessions ranged from 21 to 22 mph.

But West 1st Street also sees a lot of traffic. The Department of Environmental Services used traffic-monitoring equipment from May 22-29 that recorded 469 vehicles traveling westbound and 601 eastbound, with peak volume occurring from 3-4 p.m. Equipment recorded an average speed of 25 mph with 12.2 percent of westbound traffic and 13.6 percent of eastbound traffic exceeding that speed.

West 1st Street resident Holland Daniels spoke up at the work session and noted that 30 mph on a narrow street is too fast for safety. The town didn’t put monitors in a position to collect more accurate data, Daniels said. Vehicles are already slowing down before they reach the monitor to turn on Virginia Avenue, he added. Daniels suggested the town put the monitor further up the hill.

“And I sit on my porch every day and you’re telling me these are correct? That’s not,” Daniels said.

But Councilman Eugene Tewalt said he worried that lowering the speed limit on one street would prompt residents on other town roads to make similar requests. Tewalt said he would rather see the town police ramp up enforcement of the posted speed limits.

“Again, I feel for you because I have the same problem where I live,” Tewalt said.

Drivers tend to drive faster than the posted speed limit and, for instance, travel 30 mph in a 20-mph zone, Daniels said. The town also should study speed limits and compliance on all its streets, Daniels added.

By the end of the discussion, council members agreed that the town should conduct an extended traffic study of West 1st Street.

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