Traffic Group Studies Speed Limit Increases

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Everyone has their secret routes.

It's simple survival, in a town held hostage by two state highways.

Anyone who has lived through a Payson summer knows that getting across town without setting rubber on the highway is essential to mental health.

So why not make it easier?

At least, that's the theory behind the current effort by the Payson Surface Transportation Advisory Committee to reconsider speed limits on a network of streets that parallel the highway, with the goal of speeding up the movement of people flitting down the shadow network of local roads.

"There is a philosophy behind this," explained STAC Chairman Tom Loeffler. "People want to move around -- and several of them go faster than the posted speed limit," he said by way of understatement, since traffic studies show residents routinely violate the 25 mph limit on local streets.

"There are really no roads anyone can travel on that they can go faster on than these residential streets," he said. Speeding is so pervasive that speed limits on most local streets are all but unenforceable.

"So the theory is that if some roads were posted higher, those needing or wanting to get around quicker could do that by gravitating to those roads. It would keep the faster moving cars on these better-equipped roads -- then the slower drivers would stay on the residential streets and this would in effect lower the speed on most of the residential streets."

So far, STAC has identified a list of road and road sections to study for a possible 5-10 mph increase in the posted speed -- with an emphasis on streets that can move people through town without relying on the clogged highway.

STAC has asked for information about the targeted roads. Many can't be considered for an increase in speed limits until they can be redesigned to remove stop signs and blind spots, not to mentioned widened to accommodate higher speeds.

In addition, each road needs a traffic study to measure how fast people drive at present, a safety analysis, accident reports and other information.

The project may take years to complete, especially since many of the roads will have to be widened or in other ways modified before the speed limit can be safely raised. However, the project represents a long-term strategy for moving drivers through town, despite the chronic traffic problems on the state highway.

The roads that have segments selected for further study include Longhorn, McLane, Country Club, Vista, W. Sherwood, Payson Parkway, Tyler Parkway, Rim Club Parkway, Colcord, Bonita Street, Mud Springs Road, Phoenix Street, Granite Dells, Manzanita and Aero.

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