Speeding non-issue on Main

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, December 31, 2019

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

The Smithfield Police Department released a Main Street traffic study on Dec. 16 that determined that speeding was not an issue on the three-block strip. 

There may appear to be a speeding issue even if there isn’t one because of the Main Street’s narrow corridor lined with parking on both sides, according to officials.

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Both speeding on Main Street and volume of cars reach their height in the 300 block, according to the study.   

While Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams argued that drivers on Main Street were driving too fast and could create a hazardous situation for residents during the study presentation, Town Council member Randy Pack questioned if Williams was trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The data obtained from the study was to be used to determine whether the speed limit on that stretch of road, 25 mph, should be modified, according to the study, which found that overall the average speed was 17 mph.

While that average speed is a few steps lower than the posted 25 mph, Williams said during the study presentation that 17 mph was too fast for Main Street, and that the town has been very fortunate that no one’s been hit in recent years. 

That being said, Williams and Pack agreed that decreasing the speed to 15 mph probably wouldn’t change much in terms of speeding, since the average speed of 17 mph isn’t much higher than 15 mph .

Williams maintained that Main Street and its high volume of pedestrians was “an accident waiting to happen,” and Interim Town Manager Sanford “Sandy” Wanner said he would look into traffic calming techniques that are utilized in other parts of Virginia.  

The traffic study for the 100 block of Main Street took place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7, and with a posted speed limit of 25 mph on that road, the average speed was 13 mph, according to the study. 

One car out of 14,478 counted throughout the study was found to be exceeding 35 mph, traveling at 36 mph, according to the 100 block study.  

According to the study, five drivers sped between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, and four drivers sped between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. the previous Monday, representing the two highest instances of collective speeding for the 100 block study. 

For the 200 block of Main Street study, which took place from Oct. 7 to Oct. 11, the average speed for 16,047 vehicles was 16.8 mph, according to the study.  

The 200 block had seven drivers exceed 35 mph over the data gathering period, which was actually several days shorter than the 100 block’s data gathering period. 

Over 20 vehicles were found to exceed the speed limit on Friday, Oct. 11 between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and slightly less than 20 vehicles exceeded the speed limit at around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, according to the 200 block study. The two instances represent the two highest tallies of speeding vehicles during the study period. 

For Main Street’s 300 block — by far the study’s the busiest block of Main Street at 24,064 vehicles counted between Nov. 18 and Nov. 27 — the average speed was 21 mph. 

Fifty-four drivers exceeded 35 mph during the 300 block study period, according to the study. 

The two highest instances of speeding during the 300 block study occurred between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 19 and Wednesday, Nov. 20 with more than 120 cars exceeding 25 mph both times, according to the study. 

Since 2014, 16 accidents have been reported on Main Street, which Smithfield Deputy Police Chief Matthew Rogers called pretty small. {/mprestriction}