City Seeks Alternative to Lowering Park Ridge Speed Limit

Instead of lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph in the Park Ridge subdivision, the City of Warsaw Traffic Safety Commission voted Wednesday to try some other things first.
The speed limit sign going into the subdivision will be moved further into the addition for better visibility, a speed board will be placed on a speed limit sign to monitor speeders, and another speed limit sign will be put up by the park area.

Park Ridge Association President Aaron Gaff reminded the Commission that he and Association Treasurer Michal Piwonski came before the board in October with concerns about residents parking in two specific areas that were creating some visibility impairments and about the speed in the subdivision.

Regarding the parking issues, Gaff said yesterday, “I spoke with both homeowners of this issue. They were very open and receptive to taking some action on their own end. One in particular, on the hill, mentioned that as they have guests over they would advise guests to park on down the street to create less of a visible impairment, which I thought was a reasonable solution to the issue.”

The individual also will attend the annual Association meeting to address these topics directly, Gaff said.
The other homeowner recently had a family member move out so there’s one less vehicle parked on the road.

“So, it’s not perfectly fixed, but it’s much better than it was and I haven’t received any other complaints from residents,” Gaff said.
On the speed limit in the subdivision, Gaff said he’s received complaints about people coming into the neighborhood off Ranch Road onto Park Ridge and going over the speed limit.

“The overall concern is for the safety of our children because there are children abundant in our neighborhood,” Gaff stated, noting the kids including his own play outside a lot.
After receiving complaints, the Association determined it was reasonable to ask what could be done to lower the speed limit and possibly add signage like “Caution: Children at Play.” The subdivision has a playground, which was put into place about three years ago, so there’s

“quite a bit of traffic of families walking, strollers going to the playground area.”
Traffic Safety Commissioner and Warsaw Police Department Lt. Kip Shuter said that as reported last month, he received data from the Michiana Area Council of Government which did traffic counts at that location.

“It gave us some speed indications where we had an average speed of 30.26 mph,” Shuter said. “The 85th percentile was 35 mph.”

He said he ran all the data with the USLimits2, a web-based tool designed to help practitioners set credible and consistent speed limits for specific segments of roads. The speed limit report from the federal government program indicated the recommended speed limit should be 25 mph.

“I think it would be well within our reason to possibly lower the speed limit for that subdivision to 25,” Shuter said.
WPD Lt. Joel Beam asked if signs would be added if the speed limit was lowered. Currently, the only speed limit sign is at the entrance of the subdivision where drivers turn off from Ranch Road. Shuter said there could be a chance to add more signage out there, and Beam said that would be a good idea.

Street Superintendent Jeff Beeler said generally with subdivisions, you only place speed limit signs where drivers come into it. “Generally, you don’t post them throughout the subdivision,” he said. There also are standards the street department has to follow in regards to height and setback.

Gaff said the Association felt the sign was real close to where all the “visual noise” – the Park Ridge sign, trees, etc. – is when a vehicle first enters the subdivision and so the speed limit sign can be missed.

“We thought maybe it could be moved back a little bit so people could see it when they pass all that visual noise when they enter the subdivision,” he said.
Beeler said the sign “definitely” can be moved back, but said people will only pay attention to it the first two or three months and then “the sign disappears again” and drivers will return to their old habits. He said he didn’t know if 25 mph would be a realistic speed limit out there that would be followed because “it all comes down to enforcement.”
Police Chief Scott Whitaker said his department is in the process of purchasing new speed boards.

“The technology now allows for very light batteries that can extend up to 10 days. They are actually designed to actually be on the speed limit sign. This would be the perfect example of where it would work. You can set it to where if the driver goes over 30, it would flash, indicating you’re speeding. This also would take pictures of the vehicle, so if it’s a neighborhood issue, you’ll be able to identify the speeders even though we’re not there, even when it’s not operational,” Whitaker said.

The speed board also would collect data even when drivers don’t think it’s working. Whitaker said hopefully his department will make a purchase “soon,” and it could be delivered within a week or two.

Mayor Joe Thallemer later asked, “So this is not camera enforcement?”
Whitaker responded, “No, it won’t even get a license plate, just a make and model. But the pictures would be sent to Kip if he has it on his app” and he will know what make and model of a car to look for in the subdivision.

Thallemer said it would be helpful to know if it’s subdivision residents who are breaking the speed limit or if it’s external drivers.

After Gaff asked if there was an option to put up a “Caution: Children at Play” sign by the playground, Shuter said that particular sign was outlawed in 2002, but there are other signs that can be put up like a simple “Caution” sign. Beeler said insurance companies suggest not putting any sign up that would “give the feeling to parents or children that it’s OK to play in the streets because people are watching out for you,” and “we don’t want to give that feeling that it is OK because it never is OK to play in the street, they’re meant to cross.”

Thallemer said he understood the concerns on both sides about dropping the speed limit in the subdivision. He said he would take a measured approach on the issue.
After a little more discussion, Shuter made a motion for moving the speed limit sign and another sign by the park and for a speed board to be placed on a sign. It was unanimously approved.

(Story By The Times Union)