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City Council, Administration Discuss Ways To Calm Traffic Problems

During a work session Tuesday, Council and administration talked about ways in which they could calm traffic -- including smart trailers, more aggressive police enforcement or speed humps and table

Mentor City Council and administration met Tuesday to talk about ways in which the city could calm areas with traffic problems.

Those problems could include having too much traffic volume, too many speeders, too many crashes or a combination of factors on a specific street.

While specific names of streets did come up during the sesson -- Iroquois, Grant and Hayes were all mentioned -- the city did not discuss specific solutions for specific streets.

Instead, the administration asked Council for their input on creating a consistent policy on how to handle a traffic problem when and where one exists.

"Our purpose here is to reduce unsafe speeds -- especially in residential neighborhoods," Filipiak said, during the work session.

Filipiak added that the city already responds to all traffic complaints in some way or another -- usually with more police enforcement -- already, but he said he wanted to have a policy in place for when more might be necessary.

Filipiak said that one speeder did not make a street especially dangerous in a way that requires government intercession.

"I think somebody speeds in our city on every street on any given day," he said. "It's the frequency that helps us define how serious the problem is."

Other criteria that could be used to identify if a street is dangerous include the number of crashes on it, its vehicle volume, its bicycle and pedestrian traffic, the lack of sidewalks or its proximity to a school.

Filipiak said that the city's most common response to traffic complaints is to increase police presence in that area -- at least temporarily.

However, they have used other measures in the past, including the speed hump on Mansion Street, the feedback sign on Bellflower Street that lets drivers know if they're speeding, or the traffic roundabout in Newell Creek.

Other options the city can use to remediate traffic include smart trailers, roadway modifications like speed tables, traffic circles or raised intersections, volume restrictors like one-way streets or forced-turn islands, and cameras that identify speeders.

Filipiak added that every traffic remediation option comes with unintended consequences. For example, if police hand out more tickets to deter speeders, it could be perceived as a tactic to bring in more revenue as opposed to traffic enforcement, he said.

Likewise, physical roadway modifications could lead to vehicle crashes, slower response time from emergency vehicles or negative feedback from the neighborhood, he said.

Filipiak said that while he did not oppose any particular traffic remediation tactic, each one needed to be appropriate for the situation.

Council President Scott Marn said, in general, he thought increasing police presence in traffic areas was the most cost effective policy.

"It seems to me that most cost effective way is to write tickets," he said. "Every other way, we're spending money. This way, we're generating revenue."

Ward 3 Councilman Bruce Landeg said traffic enforcement by police was not enough in some situations. He specifically named Iroquois Court as a street that some drivers used as a "race track." He added that cars have crashed into houses there twice -- once recently.

"Selective enforcement is not effective in changing driver behavior," he said.

Landeg proposed offering a "suite of solutions" to residents who live in identified problem areas. Those solutions would include the previously mentioned traffic remediation options, as well as potentially some others.

And, if the residents were serious, they could buy in and help pay for the traffic remediation measure (be it a speed bump, feedback sign or otherwise) in their neighborhood, Landeg said.

At the end of the work session, Filipiak said the city administration would use Council's suggestions to write a policy on the process for identifying and responding to perceived traffic problems and Council could review it.

He also said that increased police enforcement would likely always be their primary response to traffic problems, but it doesn't have to be their only one.

"I don't think you want engineered road modifications to be common place, but you want to have these options available," he said.

Jim Davis January 18, 2013 at 04:25 PM
I moved to Denver about a week ago and they use traffic cameras. They are effective in reducing the amount of people running red lights. They have signs posted that the intersection is using cameras. I do not think having residents pay for there safety is the right option. It should not be the residents responsibility as they pay taxes to the city. People will always complain about response times for emergencies but I do think roundabouts would e a good idea in some areas. That would involve spending but it would also increase work within the city which will provide work and income dollars for the city.

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