Drivers' need for speed concerns residents Village wants traffic slowed EAST COLUMBIA

February 23, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Kings Contrivance village resident Richard Tucci sometimes has to scramble off Vollmerhausen Road to the sidewalk during his 6 a.m. runs to avoid speeding vehicles.

"Maybe the solution is to run on the sidewalk, but I think the solution is slowing traffic down," he said.

He is among a number of residents in Columbia and nearby neighborhoods who say they are increasingly fearful of speeding motorists.

The Village of Kings Contrivance is the latest Columbia community to ask the county to study ways to slow traffic. Residents there have expressed concern about speeding on two of the village's main roads, Shaker Drive and Vollmerhausen Road.

But unless more residents make an issue of it, little is expected to come of it, say two members of the village board. Only a few residents responded after the issue was raised in the village newsletter, village officials said.

The village board had planned to invite a county traffic engineer for a second visit March 3, but now intends to discuss the issue internally that night to decide whether to proceed, said board Chairman George Pangburn.

"We're reluctant to bring the county out to say this is a problem without significant resident input, and now we don't have it," Mr. Pangburn said.

The traffic engineering office recently conducted a speed study on Vollmerhausen Road, which has a 30 mph speed limit, and found that about one out of six vehicles travels 39 mph or faster. The average speed was 32.4 mph.

"It's not a big speeding problem in my opinion," C. Edward Walter, county traffic engineering chief, said.

Mr. Walter said the volume of calls to his office from county residents and Columbia village boards requesting measures to slow traffic has increased significantly in the last year.

"The perception of speeding and the lack of safety with speeding is going up," said Mr. Walter. "So much of the speeding is done by neighborhood residents on their own streets. They want measures to save themselves from themselves."

Some Columbia streets prompting concern, including the two in Kings Contrivance, would not meet standards required to install traffic lights or stop signs, traffic engineers said. And those measures often aren't the best solutions for slowing traffic in residential neighborhoods, they said.

Roundabouts, or traffic circles, are the preferred method for slowing traffic on high volume "collector" roads leading to main arteries or connecting neighborhoods, such as Vollmerhausen Road and Shaker Drive, Mr. Walter said. Traffic must yield to vehicles circling the roundabouts, which would be placed at three-way or four-way intersections.

County traffic engineer Diane Schwarzman attended a previous Kings Contrivance village board meeting to discuss measures to reduce speeding.

The board was told that to install roundabouts, 60 percent of the residents along the street at issue must approve the measure.

Mr. Tucci, who has four children ages 8 to 18 and lives on a street off Vollmerhausen Road, says he will continue pushing for speed control measures.

On his road, speeding becomes a more noticeable problem during morning and afternoon rush hours, with cars traveling up to 50 miles per hour, he estimates.

"I'm going to fight for it. I don't want to see the first child killed by somebody driving too fast," he said.

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