A new traffic study will be conducted on Rabbit Trail Drive due to concerns about speeding along the mostly residential street.
The study comes at the request of Councilman Mark Hidritch who last week noted continued expansion to the south causing unsafe situations.
“Construction workers and concrete trucks are flying down there,” he said. “There have been two to three instances of kids almost getting hit coming out of Phoenix Park because people are flying so fast — I’ve experienced it for myself.”
For several years there have been concerns about speeding on Rabbit Trail Drive, as well as congestion where it intersects Highway 100.
“We need to make more of an effort on Rabbit Trail,” Hidritch said. “This has been going on and on and on. I bring it up constantly.”
Police Chief Ed Menefee commented that another access for residents in subdivisions along Rabbit Trail would alleviate many traffic concerns.
Hidritch noted he voted against the most recent subdivision plat because it did not include another access.
“We keep letting people build houses there and just more and more traffic. People are flying,” he said. “Concrete trucks are tearing those streets up.
“What do you do?” Hidritch asked. “You have to get construction material back there. I understand but the speed is out of control.”
He added that he called Menefee asking him to set up a speed trailer for a few days.
“That seems to slow them down,” Hidritch said. “I understand we have trouble all over this town.”
A traffic study would “substantiate how bad the problem is,” Menefee said.
City officials did not say when the traffic study would begin.
Radar Speed Signs
Ultimately the city council agreed to conduct a traffic study and then take the findings to the city traffic committee, but Councilman Jeff Patke suggesting looking into the cost of new solar radar speed signs like those located on Front Street in Downtown Washington.
Initially, Hidritch sought to relocate the signs from Front Street to Rabbit Trail Drive for a time.
Washington Public Services Director John Nilges called the signs a “work in progress.”
The signs were installed in April 2017. The solar-powered signs display an approaching vehicle’s speed on a digital screen and the display begins flashing when a car exceeds the posted speed limit.
“We are evaluating them right now,” Nilges said. “They are a little intermittent when there are sustained days of cloudy weather
“We’re trying to gather information,” he added. “They work about 90 percent of the time.”
Menefee added the police department has not done any traffic studies down on Front Street to see what the median speed is as a result of the signs.
“Every time you have a speed displayed that people see their speed the largest percentage (of drivers) are going to become aware of the speed,” he stated.
According to studies, radar signs prompt 80 percent of drivers to slow down.
The signs, one facing west and the other facing east, cost an estimated $8,000. The sign for westbound traffic was placed near Cedar Street near the train depot. The eastbound sign was placed near Stafford Street.
“Front street is a test site — that’s where we are looking at if we can use this in other portions of the city,” Menefee said.
Hidritch said he was under the impression the signs could be relocated to other areas.
“I think we discussed if the subdivisions want to get together and assist with funding them,” Nilges said. “There was never a mobile component to it. They are static signs. I wouldn’t recommend doing something like that (removing and relocating).”
The signs were purchased for Front Street by the city after the council voted to lower the speed limit in the area in 2016. The council approved reducing the speed from 30 to 20 mph on the section of Front Street from Cedar Street west to Stafford Street due to the increase in pedestrians crossing.