Kure Beach Council Approves Lowering Speed Limit On Fort Fisher Blvd.

Kure Beach Council Approves Lowering Speed Limit On Fort Fisher Blvd.

Kure Beach Council Approves Lowering Speed Limit On Fort Fisher Blvd. Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 21 October 2020 01:59

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Town Council approved lowering the speed limit on Fort Fisher Blvd during their October 19th meeting due to concerns expressed by area residents.
Fort Fisher Blvd (U.S. Highway 421) is managed by the State. Jessi Leonard, PE - Division Traffic Engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation - explained on October 7th, "The Department has completed an engineering investigation to determine if the technical warrants are met to recommend reducing the speed limit of Fort Fisher Boulevard between Alabama Avenue and N Avenue. A speed study was conducted that includes evaluating the 85th percentile speed, road characteristics, existing conditions, and surrounding environment."
Leonard explained, "The 85th percentile speed is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the sampled vehicles travel. The majority of drivers operate their vehicles at a speed that is comfortable without strict enforcement, regardless of the signage. Typically, the 85th percentile speed is used to determine the speed limit. This helps to avoid posting speed limits that are artificially low, which can become difficult to enforce. The 85th percentile speed on Fort Fisher Boulevard in the section of concern was 34mph within the 35mph zone."
Leonard informed the Council that based on the roadway characteristics and speed data being lower than the existing speed limit, if the Town would wanted to  pursue extending the 25mph speed limit on Fort Fisher Boulevard between the two existing 25mph sections from Alabama Avenue and the Carolina Beach town limit to N. Avenue, the Town needed to adopt a resolution requesting the change from NCDOT as well as a commitment to enforce the limit.
During a public hearing in August, local resident Howard Aims said he felt it is important to be consistent with Carolina Beach all the way down Fort Fisher Boulevard and the enforcement of the speed reduction will be a very important part as if it is not enforced citizens will not obey the law.
In January of 2020, the Carolina Beach Town Council voted to lower the speed limit on South Lake Park Blvd between Sumter Ave and Alabama Avenue from 35mph to 25mph. The vote by the Kure Beach Council will extend that 25 mph limit along Highway 421.
During the Kure Beach Council meeting, local resident Patty Dillinger said she lives near the E. Avenue Beach Access and it is her experience that most evenings an all-day Saturday and Sunday, citizens on Fort Fisher Blvd are racing throughout Town. She asked the Council to consider lowering the speed limit for the sake of pedestrians, children, and citizens that walk pets every day along that road.
In January of 2020, Interim Carolina Beach Town Manager Ed Parvin says the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) is in favor of lowering the speed limit on South Lake Park Blvd in Carolina Beach. However, they are not in favor of lowering limits on other state owned roads within Town limits.
During the Carolina Beach Council's Tuesday October  8th, meeting Parvin explained, "DOT did recommend South Lake Park be lowered to 25 mph which was from 35 mph. Basically from the Carolina Beach Lake going south towards Kure Beach. We would still need direction from Town Council but if we want to move forward with that you would need to adopt a resolution of support and then we would need to change that in our ordinance to make it official."
Parvin said a resolution will be drafted for Council's consideration at their next regular meeting.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth asked, "Ed what was the request to DOT on speed limits for North Lake Park, Ocean Blvd and Dow Road. What did we ask them for?"
Parvin explained, "North Lake Park was going down to 25 mph and that was denied. Ocean Blvd also going down to 25 mph, and Dow Road... going down to 45 mph. All of those were denied."
He explained, "They do assessments of those streets. I know they look at what speed traffic is flowing on those streets and I know that's one of the data points they look at. The average speed. The average speed on South Lake Park was just below 35 mph and it was at 35 mph. They were already traveling that speed. They were traveling at a faster rate on Ocean Blvd and DOT didn't see a safety concern so they denied that request."
Shuttleworth explained, "What I'm hearing from our residents is the safety concern is the amount of pedestrians and people that are in that Ocean Blvd area. DOT looks at the traffic and the vehicles and the speed, And what we're looking at is the pedestrians. Of those three, I would continue to want to see us pushing for Ocean Blvd."
Parvin said the Town can ask DOT to look at the safety aspects in more detail.
Council member Leann Pierce said Ocean Blvd transitions from 45 mph to 35 mph and, "Maybe we could just ask for the whole street to be 35 mph and that would be a step in the right direction. Maybe 25 mph was too much for them."
Shuttleworth said he doesn't see a lot of pedestrian traffic on Dow Road and there are sidewalks along North Lake Park Blvd and, "On Ocean, it's pretty rough" due to the lack of sidewalks.
Councilman Tom Bridges said DOT previously reduced the limit on Ocean Blvd from 55 mph to 45 mph and that helped the situation and, "Moving it down to 35 mph would probably be helpful."
He also recommended installing a radar sign to alert drivers to how fast they going because people often speed especially in the morning when people are going to work.
Pierce said with the installation of a crosswalk on Ocean Blvd, it will be hard for people to slow down from 45 mph when pedestrians are crossing.
During the January 14th meeting, Planning Director Jeremy Hardison explained, "The area is from Sumter Avenue to Alabama Avenue which is currently 35mph. NCDOT supports this change. It would take a resolution to send to the Department of Transportation currently, Lake Park Blvd. from Wilson Avenue to Sumter is 25mph. So this would increase that area to the Kure Beach city limit line."
He explained, "Our current ordinance just says anywhere, unless it is posted differently, the speed limit tow wide is 25 mph, so there is nothing that would need to happen as far as the Town ordinance but we would just need to pass a resolution and DOT would go out there and change the speed limit signs."
Councilman JoDan Garza made a motion to adpot the resolution lowering the speed limit. Councilman Garza, Mayor Leanne Pierce and Councilmen Jay Healy and Lynne Barbee voted in favor of Gara's motion. Councilman Steve Shuttleworth voted "no".

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