COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council revised its plan for lowering residential speed limits from 30 mph to 25 mph at its Monday night meeting. Instead of replacing speed limit signs at a cost of $65,000 during the next seven years, the undertaking will now span two years.
City Manager Bill Watkins said the proposed city budget will have to be amended to include the revised cost. That cost remains unclear.
The ordinance was recommended by the Public Works Department after a $10,000 study was conducted by Carlos Sun, an MU associate engineering professor.
According to a previous Missourian report, the study showed that motorists reduced their speed by around 2 or 3 mph on average when signs were changed from 30 mph to 25 mph. The study took place in the Shepard Boulevard and Rothwell Heights neighborhoods, located in the Sixth and Fourth wards, respectively.
“This resolution essentially deals with the philosophy of how to deal with speed limits on all streets,” Watkins said.
Two sets of signs will be replaced or added in the next two years. This year 100 standard speed limit signs will be placed on residential streets at a cost of $26,200. Next year, 500 enlarged signs will be placed on residential streets with traffic of more than 1,000 vehicles per day, at a cost of $38,750.
The proposal to implement the change over seven years would have been handled entirely by current Public Works staff, Public Works Director John Glascock told the council Monday. Glascock said the two-year plan, however, would require outside labor.
Despite the MU study that showed otherwise, several council members doubted the new speed limit signs would produce any benefit, citing a general lack of regard for traffic laws.
“I’d love to see compliance, but we all know how that works,” Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said.
Despite some skepticism, others looked forward to the idea of slower traffic.
"It's an effective way to encourage people to walk or bike," said Ian Thomas, executive director of the PedNet Coalition. Thomas added that lower traffic volume and speed, if achieved by the ordinance, would mean a safer city for motorists and residents alike.