River Road residents seek enforcement of lower speed limit

River Road residents seek enforcement of lower speed limit

New limits spike interest among other neighborhoods

Now that 20 mph speed limit signs have been posted on River Road and its adjacent streets, San Marco residents offer mixed reports as to whether the signs have had any impact in calming speeding traffic on the roads near their homes.

Speed_01“Half the people have slowed down but I still see people flying through here,” said Bryan Cox, a resident of River Wood Lane, who daily walks his dog on River Road and through its adjacent neighborhood. “In general, it’s cut down a little bit on the speeders, but I still see people racing through here, and they don’t seem to pay any attention to it. There hasn’t been any police presence since they put them (20 mph speed limit signs) up. Until there is enforcement, the signs will just fade away.”

“Personally I think the traffic is a lot slower,” said District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer, a River Road resident. “If it’s a busy time and one person is going 20 mph, then others behind him have to slow down.”

“It’s better, but not perfect,” said Pat Andrews, a River Road resident who actively worked to get the speed limit signs installed. “Some people are driving slower, but it hasn’t decreased volume.”

“People seem to be speeding more than before,” said Kathy Moore, a resident on Arbor Lane. “It hasn’t made much difference, but I didn’t expect it to make a difference. What we are waiting for is enforcement. Now that they have the framework established, I’ll be excited to have the enforcement to change the behavior.”

Enforcement is coming, said Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Melissa J. Bujeda, adding the JSO zone commander for the area has received no speeding complaints since the reduced speed signs were installed. “We are putting together a plan of action that will include warnings via signboards followed by enforcement.”

During the third week of August, JSO installed mobile LED signboards on Laurel and River Roads. The signs register the speed of passing cars, alerting the motorists as they drive by. Moore said she hopes another mobile warning sign will be put on Arbor Lane to increase the effort to slow motorists down.

“I’m going to ask Lori Boyer if she can have another monitor placed in the neighborhood and to please use me and put it in front of our house,” she said.

More neighborhoods
want lower limits

Boyer said that since the 20 mph speed limit signs have been installed emails have been pouring into her office from residents requesting speed limits be lowered on additional streets in San Marco.

Speed_02Residents on Belmonte Avenue, Alhambra Drive South and Pinewood Avenue have specifically requested 20 mph speed limit signs in their neighborhoods, she said.

Town hall meetings for these areas will be held following the completion of
traffic studies in September, Boyer said. Other roads that may be considered are Marco Place (on the east side of Hendricks), Boulder Street and Sheridan Street, she said.

There is also an interest for a change to be made on Belote and Marco Place, said San Marco Preservation Society President Andrew Dickson. “The petition process is still underway in the Belote and Marco Place neighborhoods to lower speed limits,” he said. “Volunteers from north San Marco have also come forward to get a plan started for Belmonte Avenue and possibly the whole grid north of the Square. We’re looking forward to a notice for a public meeting to get that started.”

“Every residential street in the area will be 20 mph if this continues,” Boyer said, noting that once the Overland Expressway and construction on Philips Highway is complete, perhaps commuters will avoid cutting through San Marco streets on their way downtown.

As in the case of River Road, traffic calming measures will need to be initiated by residents, Boyer explained. After a request is made, a traffic study is done by the city. Neighborhood petitions will need to be signed by the homeowners who live there. Also, the tab for fabricating new speed limit signs is split between the homeowners and the city.

So far, money has been paid to cover the signs on River, Largo and Arbor Lane, said Nicole Spradley, Boyer’s assistant. Although the signs have been installed, six roads are still collecting money: River Oaks, Holly Lane, Maple Lane, Elder Lane, Sorrento Road and Laurel Road, she said.

Boyer said she is exploring the idea of proposing an ordinance that would reduce the speed limit in residential areas citywide from 30 mph per state statute to 20 mph.  Under state law it may not be possible to designate the change only for certain districts, she said. Although most in San Marco would welcome the change, Boyer said she doesn’t know if a lower residential speed limit would be acceptable in other areas of Jacksonville. “I don’t know if there would be an outcry,” she said.

Dickson said he hopes the speed limit will be lowered for all of San Marco’s side streets. “I hope all of these efforts will result in a comprehensive 20 mph speed limit on San Marco’s side streets,” he said. “They demonstrate the need for the city to adopt new rules that will allow entire districts to reduce speed limits wholesale, rather than by the current piecemeal, street-by-street, decades-old petition process.”

Cox said he noticed a case of vandalism concerning signs on Sorrento Road when he was walking his dog August 20. One 20 mph sign had been uprooted and was lying on the side of the road while the stop sign had been pulled out and thrown in Marco Lake, about 20 feet offshore. “If I hadn’t been walking my dog I might have walked out into the lake to get it,” he said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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