A traffic study has recommended that several downtown streets in Newnan have their speed limit reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph, but final approval must come from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
While the study has recommended the reduction in the speed limit, any move to reduce the speed limit on roads such as Jackson Street and Jefferson Street would require the approval of the Georgia Department of Transportation, since they are state highways.
The study, prepared on behalf of Bike Coweta by Vern Wilburn of Maldino & Wilburn, was presented to the city of Newnan recently. The study cites daily volume of vehicles, median speeds and peak numbers of pedestrians and bicycles moving through downtown streets, as well as parking numbers.
Wilburn said the survey was prompted by a walkthrough conducted by Patti Pittman of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program. In the study, it was remarked that Pittman reported the streets “feel uncomfortable to cross and recommended consideration be given to lowering the speeds in town to 25 mph.”
Chris Doane of Bike Coweta said the group hopes the lowered speed limits will be safer for bicyclists and pedestrian traffic.
“The challenge is that the state highways are the state’s jurisdictions, not Newnan’s, so the first domino was that Safe Route to Schools, a sub-organization of GDOT, did that walking audit,” Doane said. “As a result of that, we initiated the traffic study, and one of the goals of the downtown traffic study was to document movement and volume.”
The study took a look at the 85th percentile of speeds along Jackson Street, Jefferson Street, College Street and Broad Street. Wilburn said at that 85th percentile, only 15 percent of motorists exceed those speeds. The study also took a look at the daily volume of vehicles, or how many vehicles travel down the road in a given day.
The speeds and counts were performed on Feb. 23.
Along the 35 mph Jackson Street traveling southbound, the 85th percentile was 28 mph north of Wesley Street and 21 mph south of Madison Street, according to the study. North of Wesley Street, the road has a daily volume of 11,180 vehicles, and a daily volume of 9,217 vehicles south of Madison Street.
On the 35 mph Jefferson Street traveling northbound, the 85th percentile was 27 mph north of Wesley Street and 21 mph north of Spring Street. North of Wesley, Jefferson has a daily volume of 10,792 vehicles and a volume of 7,821 vehicles south of Spring Street.
On the 35 mph Broad Street, east of Perry Street, the 85th percentile for eastbound travelers was 24 mph and 23 mph for westbound motorists. Broad Street had a daily volume of 3,190 vehicles eastbound and 2,313 westbound.
On College Street, which has a speed limit of 25, the 85th percentile of speeds traveling both northbound and southbound was 26 mph. The road has a daily volume of 895 vehicles northbound and 808 southbound.
Wilburn said GDOT has a process to establish speed limits, and the rationale for reducing speed limits has to come from an engineering study that looks at existing speeds on highways.
Hasco Craver, Newnan’s assistant city manager, said the city can not make the decision alone to reduce the speed limits or make modifications or changes to the roads without GDOT’s approval.
“We’ve received the report,” Craver said last Thursday. “We appreciate Bike Coweta, Vern Wilburn and their desire to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in our downtown. We are still reviewing the report in partnership with GDOT.”
Both Wilburn and Doane indicated that Bike Coweta will meet with the city of Newnan sometime next week to discuss the study.
Craver said that after the city reviews the report and consults with GDOT and the city engineer about suggested improvements, the city will “then figure out a path forward.”