Lower speed limit on some San Marco streets confusing to drivers

Miramar resident John Baxter drafted the ordinance which lowered the speed limit in his neighborhood to 20 mph.

Miramar resident John Baxter drafted the ordinance which lowered the speed limit in his neighborhood to 20 mph.

When driving through San Marco neighborhoods, be aware that the speed limit on a number of residential streets has been lowered to 20 mph.

Police are issuing speeding tickets to drivers who exceed the new 20 mph speed limit on London, Gadsden, Morvenwood, Greenridge and Mapleton roads in Miramar.

And, farther north, residents in the River Oaks Road neighborhood to the east of Hendricks Avenue are working to lower the speed limit and have a speed hump installed on the busy cut-through street.

John Baxter, a Miramar resident, is responsible for the ordinance that is giving residents a means of calming traffic in their neighborhoods.

“For me, it was about safety,” he said. “I’m a runner. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost gotten hit.”

The streets in Miramar are popular cut-throughs between Hendricks Avenue and Old San Jose Boulevard.

In 2012 a child was hit and killed near Southside United Methodist Church and a couple of years later another was injured by a car on Monterey Street.

“In 2013 my daughter was born and that brought it closer to home,” Baxter said. “I didn’t want to have to worry about her playing in the front yard.”

That year he approached the City of Jacksonville, and a traffic study using hidden radar detectors was done to track the volume and speed of traffic.

“They found people were going as high as 50-60 mph,” Baxter said.

Baxter said he drafted an ordinance allowing neighborhoods to lower the speed limit with the approval of 75 percent of the property owners. District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer introduced the ordinance, which passed in 2015.

The neighborhood west of Hendricks Avenue and immediately south of San Marco Square quickly took advantage of the new law and had the speed limit lowered.

Baxter said the process took much longer to get organized in Miramar than he expected. They needed about 300 signatures, which meant going door to door.

“Sometimes we had to visit a house six or seven times before someone came to the door,” Baxter said. “Pretty much everyone wanted to do it, but a number of the streets had more than 25 percent renters, and we had a hard time tracking down the owners.”

Baxter said they wanted to get the entire neighborhood’s speed limit lowered to 20 mph but settled for five streets. The residents and the City split the cost of the signs. The speed limit went into effect in January and Baxter thinks it is helping.

“It hasn’t solved the problem entirely, but it has significantly helped,” Baxter said. “I’ve gotten a number of responses from runners and walkers, saying thanks, I don’t have to dive into someone’s yard when a car comes through.”

Holly McMurry, a Realtor and Miramar resident, is glad to see the traffic slow down.

“I live on a street where there are 13 children. People love this area because of the schools, Hendricks Elementary and Bolles,” she said. “People like to walk their dogs and run, and you’ve got kids out on skateboards and bicycles.”

McMurry said she knows some people are confused that some streets are 20 mph and others are 30 mph.

“We’d be happy to explain to anyone else who wants to do this how it’s done,” she said.

Baxter, a civil engineer, said he doesn’t think the narrow streets in San Marco and other older neighborhoods are conducive to a 30 mph speed limit. He wants the City to change the speed limit to 20 mph for all residential streets in older neighborhoods, and he’s drafting an ordinance to make it happen.


By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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