Westerville News & Public Opinion

Westerville aims to slow speeders with digital signs

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Drivers often ignore the posted 25-mile-an-hour speed limit along West Main Street.

Speeding also is an oft-reported problem in Westerville along North West Street, Schrock Road, Otterbein Avenue, Olde Mill Drive and Spring Street, said City Engineer Susan Banbury.

In December, Westerville installed a new tool aimed at slowing traffic on city streets that garner resident complaints about speeding: Battery-operated signs that not only flash speeds of cars that are driving by too fast but also record the speeds of passing vehicles.

"We looked at this a number of years ago. We thought this might be another means of helping motorists recognize when they're in residential areas to keep speeds down," Banbury said. "This is kind of a pilot program."

Banbury said her department worked with the Westerville Division of Police to determine what type of device should be purchased to combat speeding.

The Radarsign TC-500 is unlike the large portable speed trailers often seen displaying cars' speeds along roadways.

The small digital boards attach to existing speed limit signs, on the pole below the speed-limit placard. They can be moved from location to location, if city officials decide that is what they want to do.

The city purchased four of the signs earlier this year for $3,500 per sign, Banbury said. They were installed in December on Main Street west of Cleveland Avenue and on North West Street between Main Street and County Line Road.

The signs will be up for a total of five weeks, Banbury said. In the first week, the signs were placed in "stealth mode," meaning they did not display cars' speeds, just checked and logged the speeds of passing cars to provide the city with data on how fast traffic was traveling through the area.

For the following two weeks, the signs were active. If passing cars were traveling above the speed limit, the signs would flash their speeds to encourage them to slow down.

For the remaining two weeks, the signs will return to stealth mode. The data collected before and after the two weeks that the signs were active will help the city to determine if the signs are effective at slowing traffic, Banbury said.

"It's supposed to be self-enforcement. We're hoping by having these up, people will slow down on their own," Banbury said. "I'm hoping it makes residents more aware, because it is their neighborhood, and ... their neighbors."

Once the signs have served the five weeks at their current locations, the city will move them to other locations that are known to have problems with speeders, Banbury said.

At each location, the city will collect data to determine if the signs are effective. In six months, the city will examine the data to decide if more signs should be purchased and if signs should be permanent or transient, Banbury said.

"If it's effective, I think we probably will secure some additional signs. We do have a big community and we have a number of complaints we are dealing with and some of them are pretty regular," Banbury said. "It will be interesting to see -- five, six months from now, as far as what the data shows us -- whether they're effective or not."

"There might be the honeymoon period where people will go slow for the first few days then their speeds will pick up."

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