Concern over speed limits voiced

Thursday, June 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:19 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Proposed speed limit increases along three county roads northwest of Columbia have some residents upset.

The section of Roemer Road where Cheryl Rosenfeld lives will not see a speed limit change, but other areas near her, such as Obermiller Road, will. She often walks her dog or sees neighborhood kids riding their bikes along Obermiller Road, which has no sidewalk.

“This is an inappropriate move,” she said. “Why are we putting kids at risk so people can get to work five minutes sooner?” Rosenfeld said. “I’ve almost been hit by another car (on Obermiller Road) several times. . . . This will increase the risk of accidents.”

The Boone County Commission is scheduled to vote today on increasing the speed limit to 45 mph along Obermiller Road, the county’s portion of Blackfoot Road and a small portion of Roemer Road that runs between the two other roads. Speed limits on portions of four other county roads will also be changed.

The proposed changes are a result of a study conducted last July, which measured the speed of vehicles on the road for a day and then found the speed that 85 percent of the drivers were traveling. Factors such as hills and road curves were included in the final decision.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation Web site, research has shown that the 85th percentile speed is the speed where accident involvement is lowest, and “‘reducing the speed limit below that which is warranted can actually be detrimental to safety.”

“These drivers know what the road can be driven at,” said Allison Anderson, a project engineer with Boone County Public Works. “The limit came out above 45 mph in some parts.”

The affected roads in Rosenfeld’s neighborhood are generally straight though somewhat hilly. There are 10 houses on the road, but Rosenfeld said there could be more built in the future. Currently, Obermiller Road and the affected section of Roemer Road are 35 mph. The county’s portion of Blackfoot is 40 mph.

Resident Bob Toalson is afraid that if the speed limit is increased, drivers who already speed will continue to speed at unsafe levels.

“If they make it 45, they’ll go 55,” he said.

Anderson said she heard some complaints from residents on Roemer Road, but once they found out their portion of the road, which is residential, wouldn’t be affected, they were no longer upset.

David Austgen said he called the commissioner’s office when he first heard about the proposed changes, but said he’ll “go for them” now that he knows the speed limit on his portion of Roemer Road won’t be changed.

Other residents were happy or indifferent to the changes.

“It’s a speed trap,” said Billy Lowe, who works for J.D. Excavating located on Obermiller Road. “Three days of the week cops will be out there.”

Ron Bassford, who lives on Obermiller Road, said he doesn’t care one way or the other because “there’s little pedestrian traffic.”

The commission has already had two public hearings on the issue, but there was no public comment. It will hear the proposal for a third and final time at 1:30 p.m. today at its biweekly meeting in the commission chambers, 801 E. Walnut.

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