CHIPLEY — The Chipley City Council heard citizens’ concerns about speeding vehicles on Fifth Street on Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon the street had a fresh set of stripes.
“Fifth Street is nothing more than a speedway for people to avoid the light at Highway 90 and 77,” said Chipley resident Thomas Lancaster said. “In the last few months, we’ve had several accidents, and two of them were very serious, at the intersection of Fifth Street and Wells.”
Lancaster asked the council to consider putting a four-way stop at the intersection of Wells and Fifth, and to consider temporary three-way stops at other Fifth Street intersections, including the intersection at Forest and Fifth ßand Harrell and Fifth.
People routinely disregard the 25 mph speed limit on Fifth Street, Lancaster said, even though the street runs alongside Shivers Park. “There are always children and people walking the track in the park,” Lancaster said, “and a chain-link fence isn’t going to stop a vehicle that’s going 50 miles an hour and loses control.”
“We’ve been very fortunate and blessed that no one has been killed on that street,” Lancaster said. “If we can slow people down, we could very well be saving lives.”
Mayor Linda Cain said that traffic has increased on Fifth Street. “It’s a lot worse than it has been,” she said. “We had discussed putting stop signs there years ago but for some reason we never did it.”
“Traffic calming measures need to be studied,” City Administrator Dan Miner said. “We have to look at the traffic flow, the speeds, and a whole lot of factors.”
“DOT can do so much more with data gathering than we can,” Police Chief Kevin Crews said. “They have the capability to do an traffic study a lot more than we have.” Crews said the state Department of Transportation has provided studies of traffic on city streets in the past.
The mayor asked Crews if the city could put stop signs up. “We can put them anywhere we want, but it shouldn’t be based on an opinion, but should be based on facts,” Crews said.
Stop signs in and of themselves are not speed deterrents, Crews said.
“We just need to do something, folks, to make people aware that they need to slow down,” Lancaster said.
Resident Cheryl Gainer McCall reminded the council that she had addressed them about speeding traffic on Fifth Street back in October as well. “The family that had all the children on my street moved in November so it wasn’t quite as pressing an issue then,” she said. “We still have issues up and down that street.”
Resident Stacy Watford said she is a civil engineer, and she looked at the DOT reports and learned that some of the data is estimated instead of actual observations.
“If you ask DOT to do a study, make sure they actually do data collections and not just estimates,” she said.
Watford also said that studies show that streets with lanes clearly marked give drivers the illusion of narrower lanes, resulting in slower traffic. “If the centerline and the sides of the road are painted, it makes the road seem smaller and causes drivers to slow down,” Watford said.
Miner said on Thursday that it was luck of the draw that the contractor was able to stripe Fifth Street so quickly. “We called them and they said they just happened to have a slack week,” Miner said.
The city does not have the equipment to stripe roadways, Miner said.
“Hopefully the striping will help with the speeding,” Miner said. “When we look at the accidents we’ve been having, they mainly are the result of people blowing through stop signs. We hope striping the road will make them slow down.”