Setting ‘Tables’ May Reduce Village Drive Speeds

Setting 'Tables' May Cut Village Drive Speeds

One example of a “speed table” installed in a housing community

LOWER FREDERICK PA – Installing “speed tables,” described as flat-topped wide segments of raised roadway that are likely to cause drivers to slow vehicles down but not force them to stop entirely, may be the answer to calls for greater safety on Village Drive in Spring Mount, the township Traffic Calming Committee tentatively agreed Thursday night (June 21, 2018).

Its audience consisted of Lower Frederick supervisors, planners, members of the drive community home owners’ association (HOA), and area residents. All seemed to like the tables as a least intrusive and promising way to offer more protection for children awaiting morning school buses, and pedestrians out for an evening stroll. The crowd claimed dangerous drivers rush past both, heedless of surroundings.

Committee members spent about an hour talking to the group, assembled for a regular meeting of the Lower Frederick Planning Commission. They suggested three options to lower speeds on the drive, by creating:

  • Speed bumps, high mounds of material in the center of the road. Drivers approaching them would be forced to slow vehicles to a crawl to cross them without incurring underbody damage;
  • Parking chicanes, limited marked parking spaces grouped as curves along the drive. They would narrow the roadway in selected spots and prompt drivers to reduce speed to avoid hitting other vehicles; and
  • The tables, between three and five (below) of them located at points already scouted by the township engineer. They would require driver caution to cross, but would not deter emergency vehicles access as speed bumps might.

Absent from the discussion was the fate of stop signs along Village Drive that the township solicitor considers legally unenforceable. Only a supervisors’ decision can determine what will or won’t happen with them, the committee said, so the signs were not considered a solution.

The consensus for speed tables, reached after a detailed explanation of the choices by Montgomery County transportation planner and committee Vice Chair Crystal Gilchrist, represents a first step in solving the problem. Next the committee will meet with township fire and rescue officials to get their thoughts on construction specifics, and then again with the planners on July 19.

Traffic calming volunteers might be ready to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors by late July. All three supervisors attended Thursday, so the choice won’t be news to them. What has yet to be answered is how much the installation may cost, how long it will take, and if the township will pay the bill.

HOA Member and drive resident Jack Kelly made it clear he was tired of waiting. “Let’s not drag this out all summer!,” he growled from a seat in the front row. “Let’s have some action instead of doing all this dancing.” The comment raised a laugh among Kelly’s seatmates.

HOA President Joe Schinski, however, noted that the extensive effort to reduce speeding on the drive was directed toward what he estimated was only 2 percent of drivers who caused problems. Gilchrist nodded in understanding. “This happens all over the county,” she acknowledged. “The problem’s not unique to Lower Frederick.”

Committee members also pointed out the speed tables may create their own unintended consequences. Besides slowing emergency response vehicles, there may be occasional difficulties with winter snow plowing, storm water drainage, and the persistent “thump-thump” noise of tires crossing the barriers.

“So you’ve been warned,” Gilchrist said with a smile just before the meeting ended. “If (speed tables) go in, I don’t want to hear any complaints later.”

Setting 'Tables' May Reduce Village Drive Speeds

Red dots indicate five possible locations chosen by township Engineer Carol Schuehler to install speed tables. Not all of them may be used

Photo from WikiMedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons license
Map provided by township engineer representative Carol Schuehler