Following recent complaints regarding speeding motorists along Executive Boulevard, Delaware City Council has been discussing potential traffic calming measures for the area. Among the complaints the city received was a request for a four-way stop sign to be installed at the intersection of Executive Boulevard and Rutherford Avenue.
During its meeting Monday, council discussed the request — and the overall issue of speeding complaints throughout the city — while considering the various methods that could be used and their effectiveness.
Potential traffic calming measures along Executive Boulevard were first discussed during a Parking and Safety Committee meeting last October. During that meeting, Deputy City Engineer Matt Weber said the boulevard is a “strong lookalike” to Buehler Drive and Lexington Boulevard in that the curvature of the roads has led to a history of accidents.
Jessica Ormeroid, city traffic engineer, presented the findings of a road study done earlier in 2019 on Executive Boulevard during the October meeting. She said the 85th percentile combined speed for the road was 29 mph; the speed limit for Executive Boulevard is 25 mph.
From 2014-18, Ormeroid said there were 12 accidents along the entire length of the road. Six of the accidents occurred along one of the several curves in the road, and with parking permitted on the road in both directions, she said most of the accidents were of the sideswipe variety.
In her report to council regarding the request for an all-way stop sign, which highlighted the findings of an October traffic study on the intersection, Ormeroid said the intersection does not meet a single criterion in place for the consideration of a four-way stop sign.
That criteria includes the stop sign serving as an interim measure to an eventual traffic signal being installed, five or more crashes being reported in a 12-month period, and high vehicle volumes.
According to Ormeroid’s report, a traffic signal is not warranted at the intersection, there have been no accidents reported in relation to the intersection over the past 12 months, and the traffic volumes were well below the threshold for consideration of the stop sign.
However, because of the accident history along the curved portions of Executive Boulevard, the report stated, “the 85th percentile speeds were found to be 33-34 mph and there have been six accidents along the curved sections of this roadway. Due to these findings, it is recommended that traffic calming countermeasures be implemented to narrow the travel lanes and encourage lower speeds and to reduce the risk of accidents along the curved sections of the roadway.”
Those countermeasures include pavement markings such as centerline and edge line striping, as well as installing speed feedback signs. A resolution detailing the measures will be brought before council at its next meeting.
While pavement striping and signs might fall short of what those filing the complaints may have hoped for, City Engineer Bill Ferrigno said there aren’t any special measures that are going to truly slow motorists down, regardless of whether or not the intersection met criteria for an all-way stop.
“I know it’s frustrating to live in a community or street where people go 32 mph, but trying to correct that behavior is very difficult for us to do with technology,” Ferrigno said. “We can try things, we can pilot things, which is what we’re suggesting. I just can’t promise you’re going to find a way to get people to go 25 mph.”
Ferrigno later added that while nobody who has a complaint about traffic may want to hear it, there are criteria involved in decisions to implement traffic calming measures, beginning with the accident history of the site. Many of the areas where the traffic complaints originate, he said, simply don’t meet the criteria.
“Are you having a lot of accidents because of this? Are you having pedestrians hit? Largely in all of our complaints, the answer is no, we don’t have these terribly unsafe streets,” Ferrigno said.
In response to Ferrigno’s doubts regarding truly effective traffic calming measures, Vice Mayor Kent Shafer speculated that, perhaps, the issue then lies in how the roads are constructed.
“When we engineer these neighborhoods, they’re constructed with fairly wide streets by central Ohio standards,” Shafer said. “And a lot of those streets end up being through streets … If none of the traffic calming measures work, should we think differently about how we engineer these streets to begin with?”
Shafer added, “If we continue to build these (roads) the way we’ve been building them, we are going to continue to have problems that we can’t solve.”
“We are, to be frank,” Ferrigno responded. “We are looking at new collector roads and actually putting obstructions in the road by design … not just painting (roads) but physically limiting and constraining the pavement, the edges, because that’s a true risk (to motorists). To have a narrow edge versus a painted edge, there is a perceived risk to that and people tend to go slower.”
Councilwoman Lisa Keller said she believes the task of slowing motorists down is ultimately something that is beyond the city’s control.
“Ultimately, it’s trying to control the uncontrollable,” Keller said. “It’s human behavior. We can all do our very best to try all of these different measures, but at the end of the day, until people, themselves, slow down, all we can do is try.”
The next meeting of Delaware City Council is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are held at City Hall.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.