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O’Fallon City Council discusses updating traffic calming procedures

At its June 28 work session and meeting, the O’Fallon City Council took steps to discuss various traffic calming measures for multiple areas and residential neighborhoods. Specifically, the council gave the first reading to a bill that would update city procedures to better address an increase in traffic calming requests in the city, spurred by steadily increasing population and density within the city limits.

The original Traffic Calming Policy was adopted as part of the Traffic Management Policy in 2008.

“It’s been in place for 10 years now, so we discussed some revisions to the policy based on what we’ve seen and been through in the past 10 years,” City Engineer Wade Montgomery said.

Previously, the city discussed and reviewed Traffic Calming Policy revisions at both the Jan. 17 Public Works Advisory Committee meeting and the Jan. 25 city council meeting. Examples of traffic calming measures include speed humps, curb extensions, speed limit reductions and more. Prior to initiating a traffic calming evaluation, signatures must be received from 10 individual property owners living within the affected area.

According to Montgomery, the city currently processes about 15 to 20 traffic calming requests annually. Calming efforts apply to roads within residential areas only, and those roads must have vehicles driving over 25 mph to qualify.

Montgomery cited the city’s rising population and density in the last decade as one of the biggest reasons to re-examine traffic calming efforts.

According to Montgomery, the main goal of traffic calming is to reduce the average speed on a road below the stated speed limit by altering road conditions. Some examples of previous traffic calming efforts include Elaine Drive, which saw a 4 mph speed decrease as a result of 2012-2017 calming efforts. Ancestry Court also saw a decrease in speeding vehicles, with 446 documented vehicles speeding over 30 mph in 2009 dropping to only 28 vehicles over 30 mph by 2010.

“It’s those excess speeders that really cause concern when you see them flying by, and it [traffic calming measure] really reduces those,” Montgomery said.

To help residents address traffic concerns, Montgomery and city staff suggested modifiying the traffic calming request form to provide a specific address and details of the traffic issues. Electing a volunteer lead as a main residential point of contact also was suggested as were more upfront meetings with affected residents. Those meetings would allow residents, who must have driveways at least 300 feet from the road in question, to be briefed on the city’s process, expectations and data collection efforts.

In addition, staff proposed that traffic calming surveys be sent to households in affected subdivisions as well as notices of votes on traffic calming measures that come before the public works advisory committee and city council.

“Very similar to what the Planning and Zoning Commission does with items that come to their board and the notification they give to residents,” Montgomery said.

Other suggestions include sending out memos to affected residents notifying them of documented results of calming efforts following a traffic post-study conducted two years or greater from the traffic calming devices’ date of implementation.

Citizens in the study area may submit a petition to have the traffic calming devices removed. Once the petition has been verified, the neighborhood is asked to vote on the traffic calming devices’ removal. A 65 percent vote in favor supporting removal is required.

Following the vote, the re-application term for future traffic calming efforts would be one year.

“This way gives it a little bit of time to see if things change before [residents] go through the process again, because it is a time-consuming process,” Montgomery said.

A motion was made by Councilmember Jeff Schwentker [Ward 4] to amend the proposed modifications to provide a three-year period between the removal of traffic calming devices and a request for additional traffic calming measures.

“That [the request, study and implementation] comes with great time from city staff, and it comes to a great expense for the city,” Schwentker said.

The amendment received an 8-0 vote in favor. Councilmembers Debbie Cook [Ward 5] and Reid Cranmer [Ward 3] had excused absences.

The council is scheduled to give a second reading and possible final vote on the modifications at its July 12 meeting.

A request for traffic evaluation, as well as other forms from the Citizen’s Speed Monitoring Program, can be found at ofallon.mo.us/traffic-division.

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