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Road changes target speeders

It's a little harder to keep on the straight and narrow in two areas of Woodbury these days.

That's because the roads just aren't quite so straight any more.

Sections of Steepleview Road and Pinehurst Road have both been transformed as new traffic calming measures have been put in place at the request of residents.

The two locations were chosen to try out the measures -- curb bump-outs and medians -- after a series of neighborhood meetings held to inform residents about road reconstruction in the area produced an overwhelming response expressing concern about excessive speed.

Steepleview Road was a particular concern as it passes Royal Oaks Elementary School and Woodbury United Methodist Church, and homeowners told city engineers they were worried that drivers were navigating the road far too fast.

"We did a speed study on the road to see how fast it was, and people really are speeding," said Aaron Nelson, an engineer for the city of Woodbury.

"The 85th percentile, which is the speed at which 85 percent of the traffic is driving, was 38-40 miles per hour.

"We agreed with [the residents] that the speed was excessive."

As a result, the city decided to implement a staggered layout to the road, which forces drivers to slow down as they navigate the street.

It's the first time such a measure has been used in Woodbury but if it's successful, it's one the public works department looks set to return to.

"After they are installed, we are going to come back and so the same speed studies in those exact four spots that we did the first study," explained Nelson.

"We are pretty confident this is going to work well. If they work good, we are going to keep it in our toolbox for something to look at when we do these neighborhood reconstruction projects."

Nelson added the city was likely to carry out another study a year after installation to see the long term impact on speeds.

He pointed out that neighborhoods had to fulfill certain criteria before they could be considered for the traffic calming measures, which could not be installed on a cul-de-sac, for example.

Theresa Blume-Thole, the principal of Royal Oaks Elementary School, said speeding along Steepleview Road had been an ongoing concern for her and the school.

"Student safety is a top priority for our school and something needed to change," she explained.

"We have also had a problem with people parking up on Steepleview while waiting to pick up their children after school.

"This created a dangerous situation as well. Now with the new traffic calming structure, this will eliminate the parking problem."