So, let’s see if we have this straight, if we at the Morris Daily Herald want the speed limit on Brentwood Drive reduced to, say, 6 miles an hour, all we have to do is ask?
We could, of course, come up with a valid argument for our desire ... maybe even two. After all, there is a day care center west of the Morris Daily Herald office along that street.
Plus, at least once or twice a week someone who works here may attempt to cross the street — which runs alongside our building — to get to the Morris Business and Technology Center or McDonald’s. You wouldn’t want someone killed in pursuit of a Big Mac and a sweet tea, would you?
Besides, if there is anyone who doesn’t like the change, he can simply make his own request for the city to change the speed limit back to what it has always been. He could even get others to sign a petition in support of the request.
There is no guarantee the city council will rescind the speed reduction, of course, but at the very least it will go through the trouble of asking other nearby business owners and residents what they think the speed limit should be.
It all seems just a bit arbitrary, doesn’t it?
Yet, that is exactly the methodology the city of Morris has used — and is continuing to use — regarding the speed limit on Old Stage Road.
When a resident of Hatcher’s Woods subdivision requested the reduction from 35 to 25 mph, the city council moved ahead and approved the request — despite the fact police statistics provided by Chief Brent Dite showed no significant numbers of accidents nor citations on the roadway during the past 3 1/2 years.
Then, when another resident — armed with a petition signed by his neighbors — asked the council to reconsider, it came up with the idea of a survey of residents asking their desire for the roadway. The results will, apparently, weigh into the council’s decision on whether to keep the speed reduction in place or not.
Normally, if our recollection and knowledge of government rings true, decisions about speed-limit reductions (or increases), as well as those about whether stop signs or traffic signals need to be installed, are made based not on opinion surveys, but on traffic counts, speed studies and careful analysis of the history of a roadway.
Traffic engineers are usually enlisted to determine how much a roadway is used (and whether that use has increased or decreased over the years) and if there are dangerous conditions that merit a change. It is their findings — computed using statistical tables and standardized norms — that are usually used to determine what changes, if any, are needed regarding traffic speed and necessary regulatory devices.
We believe that in the case of Old Stage Road, the city should rely on these time-tested methods — and not just a survey of homeowners — to determine the proper limit.
Of course, that is just our opinion. But, to the city of Morris, simple opinion apparently means a lot.