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Palm Coast Will Study Raising Town Center’s Crawl-Paced Speed Limits On Some Streets

| November 10, 2015

town center speed limits

What for? A speed limit sign on a deserted Town Center street in Palm Coast. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast’s Town Center first opened to traffic in December 2007—eight years ago. When it did, a city news release warned drivers to obey the speed limits. It was an odd thing to say in release inaugurating what was to be the city’s crowning development. And for eight years, drivers through Town Center have groaned and fumed and complained about the crawl-paced limits: 15 mph on several streets in the heart of Town Center, and 25 mph elsewhere. That’s lower than the 30 mph speed limits on most of Palm Coast’s residential streets, which are far more built up.

It’s taken barely eight days of the Palm Coast City Council moving into its new home on Lake Avenue in Town Center, and of city council members driving those streets frequently, to compel the city administration to have another look at those speed limits and perhaps raise them.

That was part of a bi-polar discussion at this morning’s council workshop—the first held at City Hall, after last week’s inaugural business meeting—which featured council members at once bemoaning the reckless ness of Palm Coast drivers and asking for more rational—meaning higher—speed limits in Town Center.

Council member Bill McGuire straddled both poles.

“Everybody wants the law enforced to everybody but them,” he said in his only soliloquy of the day, cautioning his colleagues that the subject matter usually gets him emotional. “I should be able to use my judgment, but you, you’d better toe the line, and I continue to see this. I don’t know if it’s indigenous to this area or what, but drivers that I encounter by and large if they’re not texting or using their cell phones, they’re just plain rude. They think nothing of cutting in front of you without using a signal. I mean, the driving by and large in our city is not good. And while I applaud the things that you guys are saying and stand up for them, what I have found in my mind that if people are breaking the law, any law, and they’re doing it willfully, unless you make it painful for them, they’re going to keep on doing it. That’s why we have jails and prisons.”

“The driving by and large in our city is not good.”

But it was also McGuire who prompted the discussion on raising speed limits in Town Center. McGuire is among the council members the most frequent, or second most frequent, visitor at city hall. Speed limits for him were not an issue when he was driving from his B-Section house to City Marketplace, the city’s old haunt. But now he must navigate the 25 and 15 mph zones of Town Center.

“When I come into this building I drive the speed limit, people pass me like I’m standing still,” McGuire said. He suggested to City Manager Jim Landon that Sean Castello, the city’s traffic engineer, have a look at the speed limits again. “I’m not recommending that we do anything other than have a study.”

But the city has been getting complaints, too.

The streets in Town Center are under Palm Coast’s authority: the city may set the speed limits at whatever level it chooses. It does so by studying traffic patterns. In Town Center, speed limits were set based on projected growth and future traffic, not on actual traffic. Those projections were made in the middle of the last decade, when the city was in the midst of its housing-bubble euphoria and Town Center appeared to be headed toward its intended build-out, “and it was going to be pedestrian friendly, vehicle unfriendly, and all the shops right up to the sidewalk,” Mayor Jon Netts said. “That hasn’t happened.”

So a second look at the speed limits, he said, “ might be something worth looking at.”

Castello said roads are designed for certain speeds. “But they are actually designed at a higher speeds than they’re set for,” so for example if a speed limit is set at 25, there’s room for give or take in the number. “So those roadways can generally handle not s significantly higher speed, but they can handle a higher speed,” Castello said.

palm coast council bill mcguire

Palm Coast City Council member Bill McGuire. (© FlaglerLive)

The city will study the speed zones over the next few weeks and months. “It just takes some coordination to get the data collected,” Castello said. “Once we get the data it would take a little bit of time just to go through the process of breaking down that data and then looking at the area and making sure that if we lower or raise the speed limit it wouldn’t create an issue.”

Some areas can bear a higher speed. Some are not likely to, such as the area along the Epic movie theater. “Driving 15 miles an hour, 20 miles an hour in that area where there’s almost always cars by the movie theater makes a whole lot of sense,” Landon said. But then from there to Town Center where you have zero cars, and it seems like now it doesn’t make sense.” And not just there: “It’s the 25 mph speed zones and even the four-lane divided areas where there’s no driveways, that’s one where those of us in the business do not understand why that’s less than even our residential areas where you have driveways. So we’ll take a look at it.”

“I could literally get a ticket on that road on my bicycle,” council member Steven Nobile said, referring to a stretch of 15 mph road. But it was also Nobile who pressed for more enforcement of speedsters elsewhere. “We also have an issue of a lot of speeding and reckless driving in our community,” he said, asking for “some kind of method for people who have reckless drivers in their community to call in.” That system, Mark Carman, the de-facto police chief in Palm Coast (he commands the sheriff’s Palm Coast Precinct) said.

“If you have a 15 miles an hour speed limit and you permit people to ignore it, that’s bad public education,” Netts said. “On the other hand, if you have something, go and enforce it. If you’re not going to enforce it, then you need to change the rules to make it more rational.”

That’s what appears to be in the works for Town Center.


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19 Responses for “Palm Coast Will Study Raising Town Center’s Crawl-Paced Speed Limits On Some Streets”

  1. deb stolley says:

    ironic that last week a city employee was at the intersection of Old Kings Road and Town Center Drive counting cars. didn’t take the city long to realize the traffic back up onto Old King Road. guess we’ll be hearing about a traffic light soon.

  2. Ken Dodge says:

    “If you have a 15 miles an hour speed limit and you permit people to ignore it, that’s bad public education,” Netts said. “On the other hand, if you have something, go and enforce it. If you’re not going to enforce it, then you need to change the rules to make it more rational.”
    That’s what appears to be in the works for Town Center.”

    Yada, yada, yada , and so on and so forth. It was so predictable that once the council members were forced to drive the Town Center roads they would move heaven and earth to get those ridiculous speed limits raised, the ones we mere peons had to endure ever since it was opened. What frightens me is the effect raised speed limits will have on the ability of those teeny roundabouts to handle traffic safely.

  3. m&m says:

    Good idea. There’s enough speed bumps to control the speed.

  4. confidential says:

    Now that these councilmen and employees have to drive over there they noticed..?
    How much is going to cost us this “new study” as these consultants gouge the tax payers and the elected one’s let them.

  5. sue mendenhall says:

    Those wonderful little cement areas that stick into the street (central blvd or whatever it’s called) are pretty but if someone is coming toward you and not paying attention it wreaks havoc. I’ve had to move over and one of those cement “thingys” attacked me and blew two of my tires. I saw it happen to a young man on Bulldog one day and again on Central Blvd. with another guy. Egads…nice but not so nice. Good for the tire stores around town, though. Now that people will be using this road more often there should at least be warnings. Palm Coast is so good about thinking things through after the fact.

  6. Markingthedays says:

    Of course they are. Because the city excels at making roads a little more dangerous by raising speed limits in risky places. Ever try to take a left out of Racetrac in front of Palm Harbor shopping center?

  7. jbeagles says:

    It’s a shame that it’s taken this long for them to see and re evaluate the speed limits there only now that they have to drive through there. Just like the circular intersections that most seem to have no clue how to negotiate. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more accidents in them with people not using the lanes correctly and cutting people off. Maybe the traffic unit needs to monitor these area’s more to help educate people on them now that there is going to be more traffic through there now.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Who cares…the only people using those roads are going to Town Hall and no one who works there is ever in any hurry…

  9. David S says:

    I refuse to drive through the town center period.

  10. Rich Mikola says:

    Are those brick things in the intersections supposed to be speed bumps? If not, then they are collapsing. The moron who designed them should be forced to drive on them. Worst designed road ever! If town center ever gets built, is that road supposed to actually carry heavy traffic? Oh no, let me guess, the town will rebuild them the way they should have been built in the first place. At taxpayer expense, of course.

  11. m&m says:

    You don’t have to educate the people you have to educate those council members and Landon to do it right the FIRST time.. Now that they’re having to put up with this crap they’re considering a change. Before that it was just us stupid citizens who don’t count.

  12. PeachesMcGee says:

    Really? This is all the council has to work on?

    How about getting off your duffs and getting us some jobs?

  13. blondee says:

    They can put whatever number they want on a speed limit sign; people will still drive whatever speed they want – just like every other area of Palm Coast.

  14. groot says:

    Yes, the speed limit should have been raised years ago. Those speed bumps will slow down a truck. There must have been too many recently arrived city employees being late for work?

  15. Dave says:

    Just more waste from the city. Must be a slow year our they have money to burn before year end.

  16. Dave says:

    “” Markingthedays says:
    November 10, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Of course they are. Because the city excels at making roads a little more dangerous by raising speed limits in risky places. Ever try to take a left out of Racetrac in front of Palm Harbor shopping center? “”

    Oh don’t worry this big road project that is 99% completed is “supposed to fix that as well”, R.I.G.H.T.

  17. Fred says:

    Put up speeding cameras. That will fix it!!

  18. Geezer says:

    Leave the speed limits in place and ENFORCE them.

  19. James C Walker says:

    This is terribly simple, if safety is the true goal. Speed limits should be set at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions, rounded to the nearest 5 mph interval.
    If 85% are at or under 17 mph – post 15
    If 85% are at or under 18-22 mph – post 20
    If 85% are at or under 23-27 mph – post 25
    If 85% are at or under 28-32 mph – post 30

    The FDOT Speed Zoning manual has more details, but the above is the key point.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

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