Traffic survey data calls for higher speed limits in Clayton; council resists

Traffic survey data calls for higher speed limits in Clayton; council resists

Traffic survey data calls for higher speed limits in Clayton; council resists
Clayton council looks at several options for slowing traffic on several city segments to avoid having to raise the speed limits in compliance with DMV survey. (Tamara Steiner photo)

CLAYTON, CA—The City Council urged residents to slow down on several street segments in town so the city can avoid increasing the current speed limits.

After hearing results of a traffic survey in August, the council discussed several speed reduction options at the Sept. 1 meeting.
The city’s traffic and transportation engineer conducted the survey as required by the Department of Motor Vehicles for jurisdictions that use radar or LIDAR for speed control. The data collected includes the number of vehicles traveling a segment of road, their speeds and the presence of pedestrians.

Cities are required to set speed limits at 85 percent of what the data shows vehicles are actually traveling. Speed limits set lower can be considered a “speed trap” and violations would be unenforceable in court.

The survey showed the need for increased speed limits in four areas:

  • Clayton Road from Washington Boulevard to Mitchell Canyon Road.
  • Clayton Road from Mitchell Canyon Road to Oakhurst Drive.
  • Eagle Peak Avenue from Oakhurst Drive (east) to Keller Ridge Drive.
  • Mountaire Parkway from Marsh Creek Road (south) to Mountaire Circle.

However, the council wants to maintain the current limits and asked staff to provide options to slow traffic speeds.

The need for speed

According to the staff report, drivers overall have been going at higher speeds over the last 10 years – partially due to automobile safety improvements. Also, there have been reports of more speeding during the pandemic due to less traffic on the roads.

City engineer Scott Alman and consulting traffic engineer Lynne Filson suggested speed limit signs and road diets – narrowing space for vehicles and opening space for bike lanes, parking slots or a center median – along these segments. The combined cost would be $143,000, an amount not currently in the budget.

Another option was changing the timing of the lights on Clayton Road to match the speed limit.

The council plans to repeat the survey after implementing some changes, with the hope of achieving lower results.

Weighing the pros and cons

Clayton resident Harry Little said narrowing lanes might be a safety concern, given the truck traffic on Clayton Road. He called for a stronger public information effort, and the council agreed that community education was important.

“It’s probably an opportunity with the public to say ‘Look, this is the cost of your tax dollars speeding through your neighborhoods. We can pay for a law enforcement officer to write up tickets, or we can just spend money on signs you’re just going to ignore anyway, or we can choke up the roads with road diets,’ ” Little said.

Dana Hills resident Dee Viera questioned if the council had reached out to residents about the road changes and was concerned about the proposed bike lanes and parking on Mountaire Parkway.

Councilwoman Tuija Catalano opposed the road diet due to the amount of change it would make in the Dana Hills neighborhood. She recommended asking the homeowners association to warn motorists to drive slower coming down the hill on Mountaire Parkway.

Mayor Julie Pierce suggested that the city should “first start with the static speed limit signs, and then if we think it’s needed, add later the feedback sign” that tells drivers their speed.

The council plans to continue implementing static speed limit signs and directed staff to adjust the timing of all lights on Clayton Road throughout the city. Meanwhile, the city will reach out to Dana Hills residents about the potential increased speed limit and informally poll residents about the proposed road diet.