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Want slower speeds? Ante up

Rodney Ough lives on a Woodbury street notorious for speeding motorists.

He doesn't believe it's right for residents of his neighborhood to pay for improvements that would force people to slow down, he said.

"These are not the people that are living on the street," the Woodcrest Drive resident said of speedy drivers. "I don't believe this is the direction that the city wants to go."

Ough spoke to Woodbury City Council last Wednesday and asked members not to vote for a city policy that would make homeowners responsible for paying for traffic calming measures.

But the council moved ahead with an amendment to an existing policy that only needed some updating.

The policy has been in place for seven years, City Engineer Klayton Eckles said. It came before the council when numerous concerns were raised regarding speeding on Woodcrest Drive and a few other streets in the city.

The amendment needed to clarify that traffic calming improvements should be paid for by the homeowners in an assessment process, as opposed to setting aside a special fund in the city's budget, Eckles said.

The old policy stated the city "may participate" in traffic calming improvements, he added.

The city has in the past budgeted up to $10,000 for traffic calming construction like diverters or traffic circles, which were sparsely used, Eckles said.

"We had very few, if any, neighborhoods go all the way through the process," he said.

It wasn't a citywide problem; therefore, staff and council said one neighborhood should not set precedent for the entire city.

"Should the city subsidize that?" Eckles said, adding that if a neighborhood felt the need for traffic calming, "they ought to pay for it."

But Ough said most people driving on the street are not residents of Woodcrest Drive - some are forced to go there when other roads are closed, others speed because of the straight-away design of the street and some outsiders just don't care enough to slow down.

"All these are factors that are outside the control of the affected area," he said. "But you are asking them to pay for it."

Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said after a number of discussions, council decided to step back and look at the policy regarding all neighborhoods, not just one.

Woodcrest Drive is about a two-mile stretch directly south of Valley Creek Road.

Concerns were previously raised regarding drivers turning on Woodcrest Drive from Valley Creek Road at nearly 60 mph.

"The people that are speeding are your neighbors," Council member Paul Rebholz said.

So part of the issue is educating residents of the appropriate speed they should be driving on residential streets, he added.

"You wouldn't want people speeding past your home, so think about that when you're driving on a residential street," Rebholz said.

Other amendments in the policy include removing speed humps from the list of traffic calming measures.

Speed humps can be cumbersome for fire trucks, they cause problems with ambulances and a negative driving experience no matter what, Eckles said.

"It has so many potential negative impacts," he added.

Instead, the policy added driver feedback signs - which are radar signs that tell drivers how fast they're going - as an alternative.

The council unanimously approved the amendment.

Rebholz encouraged homeowners in similar neighborhoods to get together and discuss the issue as it pertains to their particular streets.

"We just need to get everybody to slow down when you're going home," he said.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.