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SCV speed limits shift

City Council members vote to change how fast motorists can drive on certain roads

Posted: October 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Speed changes in SCV Speed changes in SCV
Speed changes in SCV

Some of the Santa Clarita Valley’s major thoroughfares will see speed limit increases soon, Santa Clarita City Council members agreed this week.

But other stretches of road will see speed limits drop.

Council members approved 5 mph speed limit increases at 14 road segments around the city and 5 mph decreases at eight road segments, as outlined in the 2012 Citywide Engineering and Traffic Survey Study.

One road segment, Hercules Street from Kelly Johnson Parkway to Constellation Road, will see a 10 mph increase.

Bouquet Canyon Road, Soledad Canyon Road, Sierra Highway and Whites Canyon Road will all see speed limit increases of 5 mph on designated sections, according to a council vote at Tuesday night’s meeting.

A stretch of Lyons Avenue will have its speed limit drop 5 mph.

Per state law, any city that uses radar or laser enforcement of its speed limits needs to conduct a citywide speed zone survey every five to 10 years. These studies take into account the speed motorists actually drive and the frequency of speed-related accidents when deciding whether to change speed limits, according to Mark Miller, the vice president of Albert Grover and Associates, the firm that compiled the report.

Conditions that are not readily apparent to motorists, such as steep curves or heavy pedestrian and bicycle activity in an area, can also influence speed recommendations, Miller said.

Speed limits are generally set at the 85th percentile of speeds recorded during the period of study, to the nearest 5 mph increment. This means that 85 percent of vehicles recorded during the study are at or below what will become the proposed speed limit.

Miller, who also worked to compile the city’s last traffic survey in 2005, said the reason limits are tied to the average speed of vehicles on a road is to provide necessary justification for any speed limit changes. This keeps cities from potentially imposing “speed traps” that could catch drivers off guard.

“You can’t indiscriminately lower speed limits just because you want to,” Miller said.

Andrew Yi, Santa Clarita’s city traffic engineer, said the city chooses which road segments to study. This particular report examined and collected data from 201 different stretches of road.

Yi said criteria for choosing segments include: a high rate of accidents since the last study; or circumstances that could require the city to divide a previously studied road segment.

Yi said the new speed limits will not go into effect until updated signs have been posted. He estimated that would take about a month.

“It should not take very long,” Yi said. “The majority of speed limits (in the city) have not changed.”

Besides revising existing speed limits, the report suggested limits for new stretches of road and those not previously posted.




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