|Fort Thomas City Council is now meeting in person. Council member Adam Blau, chair of the Public Safety Committee, discusses a traffic safety plan for the city.|
By Robin Gee, city council beat editor
As traffic safety continues to be a main point of concern for city residents, the October 19 Fort Thomas City Council focused on this issue. An earlier meeting by the city’s Public Safety Committee explored traffic safety throughout the city.
Council member Adam Blau, chair of the Public Safety Committee, reported on the meeting and outlined a plan for traffic safety moving forward. Other members of the committee are Roger Peterman and Ken Bowman.
A plan to gather data and conduct a case study
The committee’s plan takes a stepped process and involves professional support from both city staff and consultants. According to a memo by Fort Thomas City Administrator Ron Dill, city policies were reviewed by the committee, staff and both Jay Karros, a traffic engineer with CT Consultants, and city engineer Frank Twehues. They recommended a speed study to gather data needed to support any recommended speed limit changes and advised followup studies to determine whether safety was enhanced by any changes that were made.
While, a comparative study of every street in the city would be costly both in time and money, the plan is to identify streets with like characteristics, so a change that is made on one street could be applied to streets with similar characteristics.
The action part of the plan involves doing speed studies. These would be conducted in the fall and again in the spring, explained Blau. A sampling of neighborhoods will be selected for the study, but residents will not know which ones.
The speed study will provide baseline data on speed in the selected neighborhoods. One neighborhood would then be selected for a "case study." The posted speed limit in that area would be reduced and another study will be done to discover if the change in speed limit has the desired results.
If it is determined that the change has a positive impact, the plan is to apply this to all streets that share the same characteristics with the selected street. If a reduction in speed does not happen, the committee and staff will come back to the issue and try other ideas such as bump outs and medians, and retest.
Blau said, if the plan works, not only would the city be able to make significant strides in increasing public safety on Fort Thomas streets, the plan could be used as a model for other municipalities.
Reducing speed on Glenway
As an immediate part of the plan, the committee also recommended lowering the posted speed limit on one street – Glenway Avenue near St. Thomas School. Peterman made a motion to reduce the speed limit on that road to 15 miles per hour. A second study to see the effect of this change will be done in the spring.
Also, as part of the motion, he recommended council adopt the memo outlining the street safety plan issued by Dill, conduct the studies not to exceed the cost of $10,000 and direct staff to create the ordinance to reduce the speed on Glenway.
Council approved the recommendation. The next step will be to pass the ordinance, which would require first and second readings. Since this could take two months if done at council meetings, Blau suggested the city hold a special session to have a first reading of the ordinance before the November council meeting. That way, the second reading and potential passage of the ordinance could happen at the next council meeting. Council members agreed.
Blau has spearheaded the safety issue with his colleagues on the Public Safety Committee. He pointed to research that shows a reduction from 25 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour can reduce fatalities by from 20 percent to five percent and greatly reduce injuries. He said he wants to see if reducing speeds can help improve safety on Fort Thomas streets.
Addressing problems on Chesapeake Avenue
In a related development, the city has come up with a plan for speeding issues on Chesapeake Avenue. Driven by requests from homeowners on that street, city officials and staff have looked closely at the issue of speeding there.
With a clear line of site, the median speed on the street is 29 miles per hour, while the speed limit is 25, said Twehues. Clearly, it’s a problem, he said.
The officials met with the Chesapeake residents to explore ideas. Twehues suggested changing the geometry of the driving lanes on the street may be the key. Other ideas include adding better lighting at the intersection, sidewalks and adding another digital speed board going down the hill.
"What I think we can do geometrically to reduce the speed is to make the lanes narrower. We can add a median to reduce the width of the lanes," Twehues explained.
He suggested a median that would bring the driving lanes down to nine feet. Medians could be used, a longer one down the hill running about 200 feet and two smaller ones. Another option might be to add a small roundabout.
Council members also discussed placing a stop sign near Kyles Lane. Twehues said he does not recommend stop signs generally as they have not proven to reduce speed and may cause additional safety issues.
Dill said staff is recommending and will help support the citizens group to apply for funds for a "Slow Streets" project for funding through VisionZero, an initiative through the Devou Good Foundation aimed at making Northern Kentucky safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.
Dill reminded residents that the Halloween drive through event in Tower Park is coming up on Thursday, October 29. The event is part of a whole host of Halloween activities, including Trick or Treating from 6 to 8 p.m.
He also noted that plans are being made for a virtual celebration of Veteran’s Day this year. Watch the Fort Thomas website for more details as they unfold.