If politicians want people to drive slower, a Florida Department of Transportation district secretary said design a slower road, don't just post a lower speed limit.
The advice came from Billy Hattawawy, FDOT's district secretary, about Tamiami Trail. He spoke during the City Commission's discussion Monday about planned roundabouts on Tamiami Trail.
The state is studying possibilities for improvements to a half-mile stretch from 10th to 14th streets, including roundabouts to 10th and 14th streets.
That's in addition to roundabouts on Tamiami planned at:
- Fruitville Road
- Main Street
- Gulfstream Avenue
- Orange Avenue
- And a third segment proposed from Gulfstream to Osprey to add additional roundabouts.
City Commissioner Shannon Snyder asked if the city could get the speed limits posted lower before the roundabouts are constructed to train drivers to slow down.
"I would rather start training folks to be a little bit more conservative in their driving rather than waiting for this thing," Snyder said.
That's not going to happen, Hattaway said.
"Unless there are physical changes made to the roadway that will actually help cause the speed change, we can't just go out and reduce speeds on the roads," Hattaway said.
"People will drive at the speed to which they're comfortable, especially on a four lane roadway," he said. "I wish those things were different, but those are the facts."
Between 10th and 14th streets, Chris Piazza, FODT project development engineer for District 1, said simulations show people won't be able to accelerate beyond 35 mph before they reach the next roundabout, where they'll have to reduce speed again.
"What we looked at is reduce speeds artificially through the roundabouts to reduce speeds on the mainline," he said.
The challenge with Tamiami Trail is that it's a commuter road.
"The longer people have to drive, the less like people are going to drive slow," he said.
Another possibility to slow down drivers is changing land use to encourage buildings closer to the road and on-street parking, he added.
But a roundabout does help with traffic safety, he said.
"The thing that changes the game for the roundabout is that there's no opportunity to run yellow," he said.
Vice Mayor Terry Turner said he's concerned with the cost of the project as the city is spending $8 million on acquiring private right-of-way and would like to see an alternative that doesn't require the right-of-way purchases for a the multi-use recreational trail.
"I am really uncomfortable with this thing going very far forward the way all the current options are configured," he said.
City Engineer Alex Davis Shaw said the city commission would need to give staff direction for a change in those recommendations.
Piazza said a public hearing in May is planned so the project can move to the design phase.