Town takes measures to address speeding

Speed limit changes along four roads "first step"

Fred McCormick

Town officials wasted little time enacting measures to address speeding in the wake of a January traffic study focused on a pair of Black Mountain neighborhoods.

Town manager Matt Settlemyer proposed speed limit changes on four roads to the board of aldermen at its regular meeting on April 10. The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Dougherty, Church, Connally and Charlotte streets all had posted speed limits of 25 mph prior to the ordinance. The speed limit along each of those streets is now 20 mph.

“Charlotte Street was not part of any study,” Settlemyer said. “That is the road that runs behind the primary school - and you probably shouldn’t do 25 mph behind the primary school - so I went ahead and included that street.”

Additional steps will also be employed to curb speeding in residential neighborhoods, according to Settlemyer.

Radar speed signs, like the one on West State Street, are one measure the town is using to help reduce speeding.

“Other suggestions have been striping on the streets, the use of radar that shows the speed directly beneath the speed limit signs, flags on stop signs and additional enforcement,” he said.

The Black Mountain Police Department has been using both marked and unmarked cars equipped with radar and lidar (similar to radar but offering a narrower scope to individually target vehicles) to randomly patrol neighborhoods, according to interim chief Rob Austin. The department, he said, has been monitoring the Fourth Street and Cragmont Road neighborhoods since before the January traffic study by J.M. Teague Engineering and Planning, a study commissioned by the town in response to concerns by residents.

“It is helpful,” Austin said in an email, "when community members have let us know when the most violations occur such as specific days and times that are prone to speeding or specific recurring violators, in order to focus enforcement efforts.”

Currently in several areas around town, the police department has deployed digital radar signs that project the speed of the driver.

The J.M. Teague traffic study was presented to aldermen in March. The study indicated that motorists were speeding in January through the Fourth Street and Cragmont Road neighborhoods.

Dougherty, Church and Connally were featured in the study, which indicated that drivers traveled at speeds 3-8 mph over the posted limit on the three streets. Several community members addressed the board during the March meeting about their concerns over increasing traffic and speeding vehicles.

“The ordinance to change the speed limits is the first step,” Settlemyer said. “There’s still some more discussion (to be had) about other measures out there.”