County considers ways to slow speeders

OKEECHOBEE — Will Okeechobee County drivers soon have to deal with speed tables?

At their Feb. 22 meeting, the Okeechobee County Commissioners once again debated how to slow down speeders on residential roads.

John Howle, county engineer, explained that some community members have suggested adding stop signs to slow traffic in residential areas where speeding is a problem.

He said installation of stop signs is governed by the Federal Highway Administration Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Stop signs are deemed inappropriate as traffic calming treatments.

County Attorney John Cassels advised the commissioners to follow the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Mr. Howle said two areas where residents have asked for four-way stop signs — Northeast 8th Street at Northeast 30th Avenue and Northwest 36th Terrace at Northeast Fourth Street — have been reviewed and from field observation do not appear to meet the side street traffic volume requirements for a multi-way stop sign.

He said speed tables and speed bumps are also options to slow traffic.

Mr. Howle said before they install speed tables, the neighbors who will have to drive over the speed tables every day should have an opportunity to give their input.

Another option is a flashing sign that shows the speed limit and the speed of the driver.

He said the flashing signs are usually effective at first, but are not a long-term solution.

Commissioner David Hazellief said the flashing signs are mobile and can be moved around.

“FDOT standards are reactive,” said Commissioner Bryant Culpepper. “You have to have five deaths before they will consider a stop sign.

“I would prefer to be proactive,” he said.

“There’s no better way to slow speeders than giving people tickets,” said Commissioner Brad Goodbread.

He said increasing traffic enforcement and hitting speeders in the pocketbook is the way to get their attention.

Commissioner Kelly Owens said enforcement would be good, “but our sheriff can’t be everywhere all the time.”

She said the flashing signs can help.

“I don’t think everyone who is driving fast through those areas is doing it intentionally,” she said. “They are just keeping up with traffic.”

“Our same little kids who do donuts at Lock 7, shoot out the speed limit signs,” said Commissioner Bryant Culpepper.

He suggested adding more motorcycle officers on the road to write traffic tickets.

“Having a sign and moving it around is only a suggestion to most people,” said Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs.

“Law enforcement is stretched now, due to our friends on Berman Road taking up a lot of their time,” he said.

Southwest Ninth Street in Lazy 7, according to the people who live there, is a pretty good dragway, he said. Speed tables might be something they would agree to.

He said they should involve the people who live on the street.

Commissioner Goodbread asked if there were speed bumps that are temporary, that could be removed.

“Once you get everybody’s attention and get them to slow down, you could move it,” he said.

Mr. Hazellief said the flashing signs that indicate increased traffic fines for speeders get his attention.

“I do pay attention to the signs when I go through the construction sites,” said Commissioner Hazellief.

“I think we have to use all of the tools available to us,” said Chairman Burroughs.

“The city’s solution to speeders has been to put up stop signs,” said Frank Irby, who lives in the city limits. “Stop signs do not stop speeders. They speed from stop sign to stop sign. Mr. Goodbread’s solution is hit them in the pocketbook. That is the only way to stop them from speeding.

He said at the last meeting, the commission discussed the problem with trucks speeding on Berman Road.

“The solution is to put the police out there and give tickets,” said Mr. Irby.

“How many of you speed through Indiantown?” he asked. “Nobody speeds through Indiantown because you know you will get a ticket.”

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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