Why Can't My Street Be Traffic Calmed?
In theory, any City street experiencing excessive speeds should be a candidate for installing traffic-calming devices such as speed humps. Why, then, can't we just approve all traffic calming requests for any street? Here are a few of the more common reasons:
- The street or roadway was designed to carry high volumes of traffic, at relatively high rates of speed. Obvious local examples would be streets such as Tennessee Street, Thomasville Road, and Capital Circle. Less obvious examples would be, say, White Drive, Killarney Way, and much (if not all) of Gadsden Street. Tallahassee and Leon County use the "functional classification" system (established by the Federal Highway Authority, or FHWA) to classify the main purpose of a street or roadway. Using this system, we may traffic calm only those streets classified as "minor collectors" or lower. According to the glossary accompanying the Tallahassee-Leon County Comprehensive Plan, a minor collector is "a street that conducts traffic from a number of minor streets to the major collector/arterial system, between other collectors, from activity centers to a street of higher classification and provides access to adjoining properties. Minor collectors are predominately residential in nature, except in commercial, office, or industrial subdivisions, and generally have lower volumes, shorter trip lengths, and fewer through trips than major collectors."
- A requested road may be a part of or affected by a larger plan; traffic calming therefore may not be necessary or appropriate at this time. For example, construction of a nearby roadway may be causing high volumes of traffic to be temporarily diverted through a neighborhood.
- The speeding problems may be more simply (and less expensively) dealt with by improving enforcement of existing speed limits and obedience to traffic signs such as STOP, YIELD, and so on. In such cases, Traffic Engineering will consult with the Tallahassee Police Department, possibly with the assistance of the citizen(s) requesting the traffic calming.
- It's very uncommon for every single residential property owner along a given stretch of roadway to agree that traffic calming is worth the disruption to everyday life. Some of this disruption occurs during design and construction phases, as engineers survey and contractors reconstruct the street surface and/or shoulders. Some of it occurs afterwards, as the impact of the traffic calming sinks in: the calming barriers may be less aesthetically pleasing than a straight, unbroken stretch of asphalt, for example. Therefore, we apply a "75% rule" at two different stages of the Residential Traffic Calming Program procedure:
- At least 75% of the property owners must agree to sign the petition requesting traffic calming. Otherwise, we will not consider the petition at all.
- Just before final design and permitting of a traffic calming project, at least 75% of the property owners must return "polling cards" stating that they accept the proposed plan and would like the City to begin construction. Thus, even though 75% of the residents may have agreed to the initial request, some may change their minds after seeing the preliminary design and reconsidering the impact of construction and of the traffic calming itself.