Excessive speeds on Stratford Road was a concern brought up at the city of Delaware’s Planning Commission meeting Wednesday night.
The concern came up during the public comments portion of the Coughlin’s Crossing development project located at 80-acre site between Stratford Road and U.S. Route 23, north of Meeker Way. The commission approved for Delaware Development Plan LTD’s rezoning requests to be considered by City Council.
The development includes preserving the historic Janes Home and Barn and building 24 single family homes, three commercial/residential buildings that total 80,800 square feet, an open space named as Stratford Commons and a 98,700-square-foot big box retailer with 470 parking spaces.
Project developer Connie Klema said she enjoyed the process of getting to know the site’s nearby residents.
“I’m happy that we got to know people, and I’m happy that they’re neighborly with us and we can be neighborly with them,” she said.
Although a public hearing took place two weeks ago, Councilwoman and commission chairwoman Lisa Keller, 2nd-Ward, allowed some residents to comment on the project.
Some said vehicles tend to speed 5 to 10 miles over the 45 mph limit on Stratford Road, which now has some pedestrian traffic and is expected to increase after the Coughlin’s Crossing development is completed in three to five years. Residents at the meeting said they wanted the speed limit reduced to 35 mph.
Keller said staff could work with police to add speed trailers along with other methods to tackle the problem.
As for reducing the speed limit, city Deputy Engineer Matt Weber said the topic is “perpetual debate” among the county engineer and the municipalities. With Stratford being an arterial road, reducing speed limits alone would not alone curb the behavior, he said.
Weber recommends that the city monitor the situation after ongoing improvements at that intersection are completed within the next few weeks. Parts of Stratford Road fall under county jurisdiction but interweave through the city. Therefore, both governments would have to agree on whether there is a speeding problem and, if so, on how to address it.
On the other hand, Weber said he there may be a speeding problem, partly because a local car dealership is located near the Stratford Road and Route 23 intersection. He said residents tell him drivers from the business tend to test their vehicles on Stratford.
Weber himself has seen drivers fly out of the parking lot of the dealership.
“That could be some immediate enforcement,” he said. “… someone can make a visit to the dealership.”
Jeanine Ruffing of Stratford Road said the problem requires immediate attention.
“It’s already a problem,” she said.
“You’ve got a lot of pedestrians (now) and you’ve got cars going in excess speeds of 50 mph … if you want to wait, that’s fine but you may have a death on your hands.”
Weber said the city would have a better assessment of the traffic conditions once the intersection re-opens to traffic. Drivers may be accelerating now on Stratford Road, he said, to make up for lost time because they had to use Meeker Way as a detour instead of making the convenient right turn from Route 23 onto Stratford.
“We have to do counts on the speed, not just counts of traffic but we’ve actually got to measure the speed and crunch the numbers, just like we would with any street in the city, to see if there is a speeding problem and what we define as a speeding problem,” he said.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.