People drive so fast on McLane that it has ruined the quality of life and poses a daily danger to people who live on the street, David Kibiloski told the Payson Town Council last week.
Kibiloski presented a petition signed by 11 people who live on the street who appealed for action to slow down drivers on the 25-mile-per-hour stretch of residential street leading to Longhorn.
In a letter to the council, he urged the council to put more signs, step up police patrols and install speed humps on the street.
“What is required is something that will be effective,” he wrote. “If that means speed humps (designed to accommodate emergency vehicles), stop signs, flashing lights surrounding the 15 and 25 mph speed limit signs, roundabouts, islands or whatever. This is a residential area where people live and play that has been made into a dragstrip where people, young and old, male and female, make gestures and rude comments to pedestrians. Why are there no painted crosswalks? We need to pull together and work this out. No excuses. Let’s make it a model for the rest to take notice. These are budget-minded suggestions that you should be willing to listen to and implement. We’re tired of ineffective solutions. If you can’t resolve it, we need to know, other avenues will be pursued. It’s a determined group.”
Kibiloski offered his suggestions during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting, which precluded the council from replying directly under the terms
of the state’s open meeting law, which requires the town to list a topic on the agenda before the council can discuss it at a meeting.
Public Works Director LaRon Garrett said after the meeting that the town would do a traffic study on the street in the next month to determine average speeds. However, he noted that a traffic study several years ago revealed that more than 85 percent of drivers routinely exceed the posted 25 mile-per-hour speed limit on the street. The bulk of the drivers average about 31 miles an hour, according to that earlier study.
However, that might not help Kibiloski’s case.
Traffic engineers generally say that speed limits should be based on the speed that a “reasonable and prudent” driver maintains on a given street. If almost all of the drivers exceed the posted speed limit that could suggest that the speed limit is set too low.
The town’s Traffic Advisory Board has in the past discussed ways to move traffic more efficiently through town by developing “arterial” streets that could carry traffic through town and provide an alternative to the traffic-clogged highway. That plan could actually entail raising the speed limit on McLane, perhaps to 35 — a number actually supported by the traffic studies.
However, Garrett said that even if the traffic study justified higher speeds, the council could still elect to leave the speed limit at 25. “It’s a residential area, so maybe 25 is appropriate.”
Garrett said that he’s not aware of a high number of accidents due to speeding on the street.
Garrett said it would take about a month to do another study measuring average speeds on the section of street the petition targets. He said he would then report the results to the council, which would decide whether to ask the Traffic Advisory Board to undertake a study and make recommendations on the speed limit and whether the town ought to undertake any measures to slow traffic down. All told, he said it would take about three months to come to a conclusion.
Kibiloski’s complaint echoes a struggle more than four years ago waged by residents of Phoenix Street concerned about whether extending Mud Springs Road to the highway would turn their hilly, residential street into an informal highway bypass during the summer. The issue convulsed council meetings and played a key role in council elections. The council ultimately asked the Traffic Advisory Board to hold a series of hearings on possible solutions. The board ultimately recommended a potentially expensive list of painted traffic lanes, traffic islands and signs to restrict traffic, but concluded those measures should only go into effect if the town ever actually extended Mud Springs to the highway. Currently, the street ends in a roundabout, which feeds drivers onto Granite Dells, which hits the highway at a stoplight at the entrance to the Safeway shopping center.
The collapse of the building industry in town and the state’s diversion of gas tax money that used to fund street construction
froze that debate, with no developers or gas tax money to extend Mud Springs.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said that any action on slowing traffic on McLane would depend on the traffic study and the overall plan for improving traffic circulation patterns.
He noted that the town frequently gets complaints from people who want to slow down traffic on their street, including past complaints from residents living on Mud Springs, Phoenix Street, McLane, Manzanita, Easy Street, Forest, Whitehead, Longhorn and Evergreen.
“What they generally want done is a speed hump in front of their house. What we have to do is try to determine if there is a uniquely dangerous situation.”
He noted that the town must not only consider the concerns of people who live on a particular street, but the needs of people trying to drive from one area to another.