Studies: Lowered speed limit not warranted in Littleville
LITTLEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Mayor Scotty Howard said his great nephew’s motorcycle was struck from behind by a sport utility vehicle on U.S. 43, sending the man’s girlfriend onto the vehicle and into the road.
Howard said the young woman is still recovering from her injuries in a hospital.
In September, 8-year-old Jaelia Smith was killed when the vehicle she was riding in with her father was struck by another vehicle just before 7 a.m. on U.S. 43. The crash also claimed the life of the other driver, 30-year-old Tina Bogue.
There are roadside memorials along U.S. 43 in Littleville at locations where other fatal traffic crashes have occurred.
Howard said he believes a reduction of the 65 mph speed limit on U.S. 43 through the town’s 2-mile long city limits would reduce the number of crashes.
“We’ve had four or five wrecks in the last month,” Howard said.
But state officials don’t agree.
There are numerous access points along U.S. 43 in Littleville, but it can be difficult at times to pull out on the highway. Howard’s concerned that it’s only a matter of time until a school bus is hit by a speeding vehicle.
The mayor said he’s spoken to officials with the Alabama Department of Transportation about lowering the speed limit to 50 or 55 mph, but that’s apparently not going to happen.
“We’ve done a speed study and it just doesn’t warrant reducing the speed limit,” said Mark Dale, operations engineer for the Transportation Department’s Tuscumbia Area Office.
“We actually had speed trailers in Littleville for a number of months to try to make people more aware of what they were doing,” Dale said. “Sometimes they don’t realize how fast they’re going.”
He said the speed trailers were recently removed and placed in another location outside the Shoals.
Traffic Engineer Julie Sandlin said part of the traffic study utilized radar guns to capture the speed of vehicles traveling U.S. 43. They captured the speeds of more than 100 cars during each study, she said.
One study was conducted in October 2016, and a second study was done in November. A third study was conducted earlier this year using portable speed trailer units.
According to Sandlin, the speed limit is set according to the 85th percentile, or what speed 85 percent of the traffic is travelling in both directions.
The Littleville studies showed that 85 percent of the vehicles were traveling 65 mph or faster. If the speeds were lower than 65, it would warrant lowering the speed limit.
“Those were not the results,” Sandlin said.
She also said the presence of the speed trailers, which flash your speed when you drive by, didn’t help lower speeds through the town.
She also said there is no place in Littleville that warrants a traffic signal. And traffic signals should never be used to control speed, she added.
Accident data was considered in the Transportation Department’s decision, but those results also did not warrant a reduction in the speed limit.
The state has erected large 65 mph speed limit signs similar to those used on interstate highways.
“More enforcement is going to truly be your only recourse,” Sandlin said. “Unless you see an increase in enforcement, they’re not going to slow down.”
Howard said the city has one police officer on duty and he cannot spend all his time on U.S. 43.
“My guys have written tickets for people running 103 mph,” he said.
He said driving 55 through town instead of 65 would only increase the drive by about 30 seconds.
The new Dollar General that will be built near city hall will increase the amount of traffic exiting and entering U.S. 43, Howard said.
“Elderly people will be too scared to go to the new Dollar General because they’re too scared to cross the road,” the mayor said.
Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/