COLUMBIA — Columbia residents may soon find themselves slowing down when driving on residential streets.
The Columbia City Council is considering a report about lowering speed limits to 25 mph in residential areas. The council is going off an MU study, which found the 25 mph speed limit was more effective at lowering speeds on residential roads than higher speed limit signs.
"This action is based on data," Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said.
The study was conducted in the Shepard Boulevard and Rothwell Heights neighborhoods. Overall, the speed of traffic in the area decreased by 2 or 3 mph on average during the study, Skala said.
"They found that it really does make a difference," Fourth Ward City Councilman Jerry Wade said.
The study was done using kid-friendly speed limit signs, which highlight the 25 mph speed limit. Some city staff members weren't expecting the study's results.
"I was a little bit surprised at what the study showed," Public Works Director John Glascock said.
Skala said he thinks the new speed limit will be enforceable.
"It's as enforceable as having the speed limit as 30 mph," he said, adding the study was done without using an extra enforcement mechanism.
The city is not going to put any extra resources into enforcing the new speed limit if it passes, Skala said.
Wade said it's enforceable if someone is out there enforcing it, but the city can't have police on every street enforcing slower speed limits.
Not every person will follow the speed limit, but the study suggests most people will slow down, and the city wants people to go as close to the speed limit as possible, Wade said.
In addition to general council support, Skala said there is public support for lower speed limits.
"The public asked for this in the first place," Skala said.
Wade said one of the most consistent complaints he and other council members hear are about speed limits and related public safety issues.
Alexander Avenue resident Fergus Moore said he supports a lower speed limit.
"I'm kind of in favor of lowering the speed limits in general in residential areas," Moore said.
He said it seems like a 25 mph limit is "plenty slow" for residential areas.
The council heard a report on the issue Monday night, but will not vote on the proposed change until its Aug. 17 meeting. If the council approves the lower speed limits, the initial cost for the first year will be about $18,000, Skala said.
The Public Works Department would fairly quickly post new signs on streets that currently do not have any speed limit signs. As far as streets that already have signs, Public Works is recommending it take seven years to replace the old signs. Not all of the new signs will be the kid-friendly signs. Because of the signs' cost, they will be used in selected locations.
The council is starting to scrutinize the city manager's budget, but Skala said the council would accommodate the $18,000 if necessary.
"We will have to make room," Wade said.