Commmunity Gathers to Discuss Traffic Concerns
|Coal truck traffic through Ferron City has become a source of concern for many residents|
At the Ferron City Hall on April 3 a public hearing was held to discuss the speed limits through Ferron City. At the request of Ferron City the Division of Traffic and Safety has conducted a speed study on SR-10 RP 25.0 to RP 28.32 in Ferron. Ferron Mayor Garth Larsen said, "We have received a lot of complaints about speeding in Ferron, both on the south end and on the north end of town. We would like to see the speed limits lowered, Kleston Laws from the Utah Department of Transportation will speak to us on how and what the process needs to be to make that happen."
Laws explained how speed limits are set in the state of Utah. Laws said, "Speed limits are set by a number of things including: design speed, vehicle speed, number of accidents, road surface and shoulder conditions, grade, curvature, sight distance, roadside development- parking, driveways. Engineering studies to determine the proper speed limit therefore include actual measurements of the prevailing 85 percentile speed. The speed limit is set by the rate of speed 85 percent of the vehicles are going. We did the speed test in Ferron two weeks ago. Most of the drivers are reasonable and prudent and don't go faster than the posted limits. We did find one section that could be changed from 55 to 45 at mile marker 25 to Scott's RV Storage. Studies show that lowering the speed limits does not automatically decrease speed and increase safety."
It was at this point in the meeting that Ferron citizens and Sheriff Lamar Guymon told Laws his study was flawed. They pointed out a number of reasons, including the people conducting the speed study were in a white van and a white car which automatically led to reduced speeds and also the fact the survey was done in the morning and afternoon. The coal trucks passing through Ferron do not start running until the evening hours.
Mayor Larsen wondered if as a city Ferron could propose a speed limit. Laws said it is a state law that UDOT set speed limits. In some cases ordinances set speeds on local city streets, but most limits are set by the 85th percentile and he was not aware of any ordinance to change it.
Mayor Larsen asked who they could talk to. Rep. Brad Johnson said a good place to start would be with the transportation commission. He mentioned that Bevan Wilson from Huntington is a member of that commission.
Laws pointed out before a change could be made there would have to be a comment period, consultation with the county sheriff and highway patrol. State law allows UDOT to establish a new prima facie speed for specific locations on state highways., when it is based on an "engineering and traffic investigation."
The comment period from the citizens was next with Roy Edgell speaking, he said, "I have had 24 kids in foster care and I'm conerned about their safety. Coal trucks come by and shake the house. The other day my son was almost hit by a coal truck. I have been in an accident with a coal truck. I think the speed limit is too high and the study was bogus. They need to hide in the bushes with the radar gun and stay all night."
One citizen wondered why all the cities have speed limits of 35 m.p.h. the whole length of their city limits but Ferron. 'Why should we have to put up with excessive speeds?'
Mayor Larsen said they would draft a letter as a city council to the governor to find out why the city has no jurisdiction on a road going through their town. Rep. Johnson volunteered to research what rights the city has and what they do not have. He will report this information to the city.
One citizen was concerned about trucks she has seen racing
and passing on double yellow lines. One citizen who has written to the governor wants something done before school is out in May. She has also called and voiced her opinion that the study should be done at all hours. The validity of the study would be in question if only taken during the day. She also hoped the study would include no passing zones. Citizens had signed the paper with her recommendations. The citizens expressed their concern for the safety of children, animals and wildlife.
One citizen also said that Ferron does not have a noise ordinance. The noise from the trucks can be heard two or three blocks up the street. One citizen said the coal trucks are not the only problem, but traffic problems occur on the side streets as well. One child addressed the citizens saying she fears for the safety of her five-year-old sister when she begins school next fall. One day at her bus stop as they exited the bus, a truck blew by and didn't heed the flashing red lights. Her sister will be using this bus stop next fall.
A citizen further described the situation at the bus stop saying at least once a month a car comes upon the school bus and skids to a stop. The bus stop is on a blind turn and 200 ft. around the corner is the bus stop. At least once a month a car or truck runs the school bus. The bus driver will not let the students off the bus until she is sure no one is coming, then she watches while they cross the road.
Another bus stop with approximately 15 children using it, is also in a 55 m.p.h. zone and is dangerous to the children at the stop. One citizen expressed their opinion that the truck drivers know when the cops are out and radio each other to watch for them.
Kent Larsen from the Ferron City Council asked Sheriff Guymon how many officers are out patrolling on a given night. Sheriff Guymon said, "There are three out every night. With cars in the north, south and central parts of the county. They could be here all night if someone calls and complains. If they see the cops they slow down. That was a stupid study."
Mayor Larsen said we need to voice our opinions and get a hold of our legislators. We need to change the law and give local government authority.
Sheriff Guymon said, "The traffic will continue to increase. You need to change the components of your study and take into consideration who is traveling the road."