PORT RICHEY — Speeding on Old Post Road and Bay Boulevard remains a concern among residents and some City Council members, but a recent traffic study did not validate reductions to speed limits.
City Manager John Dudte and Port Richey Police Chief Cyrus Robinson delivered the results of the study during the council’s May 25 regular meeting. The process lasted roughly a month overall and utilized newly acquired equipment that measured traffic counts and speeds at four locations along Old Post Road.
Old Post Road is a mile-plus stretch of north-south roadway west of U.S. Highway 19. It runs from its southernly intersection with Cotee Avenue within the Cotee River Landing waterfront entertainment district to its dead-end north of Koons Road and the location of Brasher Park.
The issue of speeding along Old Post was brought to the council’s attention in early March, primarily by councilmen William Dittmer and Tom Kinsella. The councilmen relayed to the board complaints received by other city residents and Bay Boulevard, which intersects with Old Post, received attention as well.
Since the initial discussions in March, the Port Richey Police Department obtained new equipment allowing for the monitoring and recording of traffic wherever devices are placed. Officers set up the data analysis equipment at four points — two along Old Post and two along Bay Boulevard. The process began March 26 and ended April 27 and data was collected at each location for roughly six-day periods.
According to Robinson, the amount of speeding taking place along Old Post Road and Bay Boulevard – both with posted speed limits of 30 mph — “is far below what the standard is in order to either change the speed limit, lower it, or for that matter install speed bumps.”
In researching the matter, Dudte found that federal and state guidelines recommend addressing speed limits or taking other intervention actions when at least 20 percent of monitored traffic is found to be going too fast. In Port Richey’s case, that rate of speeding along Old Post Road and Bay Boulevard was found to be between 1 and 2 percent.
The police department collected data along Old Post at a point north of Bay Boulevard and another near the intersection with Miles Boulevard, south of Bay. A total of 18,250 vehicles were recorded, with speeds averaging 29 mph north of Bay and 27 mph at Miles Boulevard. A total of 267 vehicles were traveling at speeds warranting an enforceable violation.
Data collection points along Bay Boulevard were placed at Miller Bayou Drive, west of Old Post, and near Pelican Bay Apartments, east of Old Post. On this more heavily trafficked roadway, a total of 39,452 vehicles were recorded and speeds averaged 31 mph and 30 mph, respectively. Of the nearly 40,000 vehicles, 648 could have received an enforceable speeding ticket.
“I was really happy to see the numbers when they came in to see the really low percentages that were enforceable speeding violations,” Mayor Scott Tremblay said. “It’s actually a good thing for the city.”
Despite the results, some council members and residents are not yet ready to drop the issue.
“That study was done in a six-day period (at each location),” Kinsella said. “Again, quite a few residents have appeared at these meetings with their concerns. I would personally like to see this study go on for a full month … to get a bigger picture of what’s taking place as opposed to six days here or there.”
Tremblay and Councilman Todd Maklary expressed approval of Kinsella’s suggestion and Dudte said he’d get with Chief Robinson to work out a plan.
“I think we owe the citizens the respect that we need to look (into it) a little further,” Kinsella said.
While the statistics did not point to widespread speeding, each location did record instances of excess — especially on Old Post. The highest speed recorded at the site north of Bay Boulevard was 60 mph. South of Bay, that high mark was 71 mph, 41 over the posted limit.
The highest-recorded speeds along the two Bay Boulevard locations were 53 mph and 59 mph.
While Dudte did not recommend a lowered speed limit or speed bump installation, he said the city can look into other traffic calming strategies. These could involve changing how the roads are marked or planting trees along shoulders to make the roads appear more narrow to motorists. Studies have shown that this visual perception can lead to motorists slowing down, Dudte said, as opposed to speeding up on wider stretches.
Old Post Road and Bay Boulevard are the first of many Port Richey roadways to be analyzed and assessed, Robinson told the council. “We’re up to our third additional roadway with the device, so we’re trying to be ahead of the curve and see what our traffic speed problems are, if there are any, within the city.”
Washington Street, a roadway that intersects with U.S. 19 south of Ridge Road in Port Richey and runs south into New Port Richey, was analyzed and found to need a moderate level of enforcement, Robinson said. As of the time of last Tuesday’s meeting, the police department was in its third week of enforcement along Washington Street.