City Council looks to stop speeding drivers in residential shortcuts |

City Council looks to stop speeding drivers in residential shortcuts

Residential roadways take the strain of summer traffic as motorist look for ways to avoid the congestion on U.S. Highway 50, according to some city officials.

“We’ve had concerns from citizens about traffic safety in different areas around town,” said city engineer Brad Vidro. “It’s a unique situation here because of the high influx of tourist traffic.”

According to Vidro, the added traffic causes local drivers to take side streets, which causes more traffic in residential areas and more complaints concerning traffic safety to the city.

He said some of the common areas that spark complaints include Chonokis Road and the area around Los Angeles and Freel Peak avenues. He also said three people complained about motorists driving too fast near the intersection of Michael and Colorado drives.

In response to the concerns, city officials discussed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting different approaches to traffic control measures.

“It’s not just a matter of saying ‘lets put in a stop sign,'” Vidro said. “The city uses the State of California Department of Transportation Traffic Manual as a guide, and deviation from the manual is often characterized as negligence in court.”

Vidro said guidelines for installing stop signs include assessment of traffic volume, speed and accident history in the area. Stop signs should be used to assign right-of-way at intersections, Vidro said, not to slow traffic down.

“Studies show that they actually may increase mid-block speeds,” he said.

But Councilman Bill Crawford said public safety should come before guidelines.

“It seems obvious to me that if you get people to stop, they’re slowing down,” he said. “It’s fine to have guidelines but … the rule of thumb should be public safety. To pass the buck on some national guideline is just bureaucratic garbage.”

Speed bumps, a common solution to speeding problems in other cities, can’t be used in South Lake Tahoe because they will interfere with snow removal practices, according to Vidro.

Speed limit signs, radar trailers and law enforcement patrols are some of the measures already in place to control speed in residential areas in the city limits.

Sgt. Richard Munk of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department said the radar trailer, which reads motorists speeds as they drive by, is effective in slowing traffic down.

“Most people speed unintentionally and they forget how fast they’re going,” he said. “The trailer tends to remind people that they’re speeding and they slow down.”

Munk said people are invited to call the police department and request the radar trailer if they are having speeding problems in their neighborhood.

Vidro said people with traffic safety concerns in the city limits can call the city of South Lake Tahoe’s engineering department at (530) 542-6030. Issues concerning enforcement will be referred to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department at (530) 542-6100.

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