McCandless mulls creative solution for speeding as stop sign request to state likely to fail
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 5:40 PM
Despite several McCandless residents pleading for stop signs at a busy intersection in their neighborhood, the location likely doesn’t meet the state’s criteria for putting them up, according to town officials.
But other methods will be explored to try to tame vehicles regularly speeding through the neighborhood.
At issue is the three-way intersection of Whitley and Aldenford drives, which is 350 feet from Babcock Boulevard and half a mile from the entrance to McCandless Crossing.
Johnathan Parker, who has lived in the 900 block of Whitley Drive, said the number of drivers who speed through the area has grown since he moved to the neighborhood seven years ago.
“I’ve noticed over the years an increasing amount of traffic, and more than that, an increasing amount of irresponsible driving and speeding,” he told council during its virtual town meeting on Monday night.
“I suspect that a lot of the traffic is using our road as a cut-through to Passavant,” he said. “The only thing I’ve done about it is yell at people as they drive by. So I’m happy to hear that council is considering this.”
Kaitlin Manjerovic, who also lives on Whitley Drive, said a stop sign would serve as a reminder to motorists “that this is a neighborhood, so slow down.”
But a preliminary investigation by the town into whether erecting stop signs at the intersection is feasible found that none of the requirements outlined by the state are present, said Mark Sabina, the town’s director of public works.
Sabina said the intersection of Whitley and Aldendford drives fails to meet the “number one” factor the state considers when permitting a stop sign — whether any accidents have occurred.
“There are no indications that there have been any accidents,” he said.
In addition to searching accident report records, the town’s police department has conducted traffic observation and vehicle counts to try to gauge the scope of the problem.
To be considered for a stop sign, a minimum of 800 vehicles a day must travel the road, said Sabina, who believes the threshold set by the state is “excessive.”
“Clearly that (800 vehicles a day) is not going to happen,” he said.
Sabina said the state probably won’t consider any additional data collected by police as evidence if the town seeks permission to put up a stop sign.
“While there is a perception that there is speeding on the street, the percent of cars that exceeded the speed limit to the point that they (police) could have issued a citation is less than 3%,” Sabina said.
Traffic reviews conducted by the police department found that 85% of the vehicles traveling through the intersection faster than the 25 mph speed limit only exceeded it by 1 mph.
The 25 mph speed limit was set in 1997 after one of the suggested solutions for getting vehicles to slow down — turning the road into a one-way — was rejected by residents at the time, Sabina said.
By law, municipal police can only issue speeding citations for vehicles traveling more than 11 mph over the posted speed limit, according to town police.
Sabina said that if the township erects a stop sign without getting permission from the state, it could be held responsible if any accidents occur. Local district judges also would likely dismiss cases involving citations issued for people who fail to obey an unapproved stop sign.
While the simplest solution to reduce speeding is enforcing the speed limit, Sabina concedes that there is a slim chance a police officer would be present when one of the few vehicles going 14 mph faster than the speed limit is traveling the road.
Measures such as placing “local traffic only” signs or even portable electronic message boards that display the speed limit and the speed at which passing vehicles are traveling “are only as good as those watching the signs.”
“People from outside the area would pay attention, but those who know the shortcut won’t,” he said.
Town manager Robert Grimm said he will investigate whether other options such as “traffic calming” measures can be used to address residents concerns.
“There’s some creative approaches out there, so it makes some sense to look at them,” Grimm said.
Councilwoman Angela Woods, who was contacted by half a dozen residents along Whitley about speeding, said she supports looking for alternative ways to address the issue.
“We need to do something proactive,” she said. “We should have neighborhoods where people can safely ride a bike without worrying about getting hit by a car.”