|A new four way stop at the corner of 200 West and 300 North in Huntington.|
In an effort to have some of the 128 stop signs around Huntington removed, Marie Johnson approached the Huntington City Council for the second time in as many months. "I appreciate your willingness to hear from us about the stop signs," said Johnson.
She stated the problem with speeding in Huntington is, and has been, obvious to everyone who lives there. "We need to slow them down, but I think the city moved too fast in installing the signs," stated Guymon. She said her research into this issue has revealed that the State of Utah has adopted the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as state statute.
In reality, MUTCD guidelines are the law in Utah for municipalities to follow with the installation of such devices and signs and lights. Although the MUTCD guidelines are an adopted statute, there is no agency to enforce compliance in those municipalities.
Johnson also stated during her research, she has uncovered some concerns about liability following an accident. She said if an accident were to happen at an intersection where a noncompliant sign is located, the city would be liable for the damages to the parties involved. There is not one case where the person at fault for the accident was held liable over the entity who placed the noncompliant sign.
"I have a home in Huntington and I pay property taxes in Huntington, and I object to the city using that tax money to do things that are against state and federal statutes," concluded Johnson. "I think more investigation should have been done before placing the signs. I want to encourage everyone to turn in and identify speeders. The Utah Department of Transportation has funding available to help rural communities develop master plans for traffic control."
Danny Johnson commended the city for trying to solve the problem of speeding in Huntington. "My intent is to solve this problem with no contention and with everyone remaining friends," said Danny Johnson.
He expressed his disapproval of representatives of the city holding meetings with John Leonard and Troy Torgersen of UDOT on the matter of the signs. "I requested at the last meeting to be included in any meetings about this subject, and I feel it a violation of my request to be excluded from any further discussion of stop signs," stated Danny Johnson. "I feel deceived, put off and ignored."
Danny Johnson read from and article by Richard Beaubien, "The MUTCD states that stop signs should not be installed for speed control. One argument for this is that misuse of this traffic control device promotes lack of respect for all traffic control devices, and nonobservance of such devices is potentially hazardous. Perhaps a more effective argument is that stop signs are not effective in reducing speeds."
He went on to say, "There is liability in failure to follow the MUTCD. I urge Huntington to consult a traffic engineer about this issue. The removal of inappropriately placed signs will never make a city liable. I request that a motion be made to remove those signs before this meeting ends. I also request a vote so Huntington residents can see where each council person stand."
Following the presentations by the Johnsons, the meeting was open to public comment. Of the more than 20 residents who commented, less than half were opposed to the stop signs. Several of the others were opposed only to the four way stops. The majority of the citizens were convinced the signs have slowed the speeders and were working, and the time that it takes to stop is inconsequential as compared to the value of a child's life.
Safety of the children of Huntington was the most cited reason for agreeing with the installation of the signs. Most of the respondents complained of the lack of patrol and enforcement of the speeding laws in the city.
Emery County Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Harrison explained to the residents that the drivers in the city are on their best behavior when they see a marked police car, and as most of the deputies are in marked police cars, they do not see the worst behavior of the speeders. He said when they see an infraction, they act on it.
"You must remember there are only three officers on duty on the west side of the county. That is Elmo, Cleveland, Huntington, Orangeville, Castle Dale, Ferron, Clawson and Emery we must patrol. We do the best we can with what we have. Huntington gets extra patrol in the early morning hours and the remaining cities do not. Sheriff is very concerned with Huntington's safety, as well as the other cities in the county," concluded Harrison.
Councilman Bob Mills announced the meeting with Leonard and Torgersen was concerning the speed limits on SR-10 approaching the city limits. "As long as they were here, I asked them about the signs. It was not a private meeting. We're trying to figure things out," said Mills.
Mayor Jackie Wilson stated she has called Leonard and Torgersen and arranged for them to do a survey of the streets in Huntington. "Mr. Torgersen directed us not to take down the signs until he has completed his survey. Upon completion of the survey, he will make his recommendations to us and we will go from there," stated Wilson.