F’ville Chief Heaton presses council to lower speed limits


The Fayetteville City Council sets its sights on lowering the speed limits on two major thoroughfares at its meeting this Thursday.

The Council on Sept. 15 heard a proposal that would reduce the speed limit on Beauregard Boulevard and South Jeff Davis Drive and to continue the expanded school zone along Grady Avenue.

The part of the proposal pertaining to South Jeff Davis led to a request by Councilman Al Hovey-King to see the details on which the recommendation was based.

Those details will be presented at the Oct. 6 meeting and will show approximately 30 percent of the more than 29,000 drivers traveling through the study area were exceeding the speed limit anywhere from 5 to 30 miles per hour.

Council members at the mid-September meeting heard the first reading of a proposal to lower the speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph on Beauregard Boulevard from South Glynn Street to Ramah Road and on South Jeff Davis beginning at the city limits. The proposal also looked to continue the expanded school zone along Grady Avenue.

Police Chief Steve Heaton said the proposals followed a recent speed limit review that was conducted as a result of changes and upgrades made to the named roadways.

The council was generally accepting of the proposal, though Councilman Al Hovey-King questioned the need to lower the 45 mph speed limit and asked to see more details before voting to shave 10 mph off the maximum speed.

Addressing the proposed 35 mph speed limit on South Jeff Davis, Hovey-King said he was not convinced that lowering the speed limit was the most appropriate way to reduce speed in the area. Noting Heaton’s comments that the number of homes along the roadway can contribute to congestion, Hovey-King said most of those homes have been there for 25-30 years.

Heaton at the Oct. 6 meeting will provide the results of a traffic analysis performed in July along with information on the number of traffic accidents on South Jeff Davis in the past year.

Council members will hear that the study conducted over a period of 108 hours in July showed that 29,473 vehicles passed through the analysis area traveling at an average speed of 47 mph. Of those, 8,728 were traveling 50-75 mph.

The report will also show 21 traffic accidents with eight injuries on South Jeff Davis during the period of September 2010 through September 2011.

Bolstering the need to reduce the traffic flow along the roadway, Heaton in a Sept. 20 memo said there have also been several developmental changes to the South Jeff Davis Drive area creating a need to reduce the speed limit as requested.

The roadway has been widened, sidewalks have been constructed for pedestrian use and the city limits have been extended south which has encompassed new intersections and additional residential areas, Heaton said.

Heaton noted that during the morning and afternoon hours, school buses travel the South Davis Drive area picking up and dropping off children.

“With the widening of the roadway, drivers are more inclined to operate their vehicles at a higher rate of speed,” said Heaton. “I believe with the amount of traffic traveling at speeds above the posted speed limit as well as the increased pedestrian traffic, there is an increased chance of accidents in the South Jeff Davis Drive area.”