Commissioners reject speed humps, consider speed trailers for problematic county roads

Smith County Commissioners asked Sheriff Larry Smith to price out the purchase of a speed trailer, like this one, to help curb speeding on county roads. Courtesy photo.

Speed bumps are restricted to parking lots in the unincorporated parts of Smith County, and they will stay that way for now.

Tuesday morning, the Smith County Commissioners discussed speed control methods, primarily the possibility of adding speed humps to its county roads.

As of now, the county does not allow speed humps, which are longer and less steep than a speed bump.

The body asked Sheriff Larry Smith to price out speed trailers, a device that shows drivers how fast they are going, but did not reach a consensus on if they would consider the humps in the future.

County Engineer Frank Davis said he was asked to look into the possibility after The Eagle’s Peak neighborhood in Lindale contacted Commissioner Terry Phillips.

The neighborhood, off Farm-to-Market Road 16 outside Lindale, was concerned about speeders on County Road 4212, or Cory Ray Lane.

Smith said his deputies have started patrolling the street heavier and began writing warning tickets to speeders. The deputies then switched to real tickets. The county also has lowered the speed limit on the street from 35 mph to 20 mph.

“We want voluntary compliance,” Smith told commissioners, adding he was not in favor of speed humps on county roads. “We don’t want to be writing tickets. Anything that would enhance the safety of the kids, we are in favor of it.”

Commissioner Cary Nix said he was more in favor of using speed trailers than installing speed humps, and Commissioner Jeff Warr said he considered them to be a liability.

“You are creating a hazard,” Warr said. “You have a lot of governmental immunity until you create the hazard. … I’m reluctant to support one. There are neighborhoods that want to pay for it, we can revisit it, but I would look at the possibility of technology trailers.”

Phillips wasn’t opposed to them, but didn’t want the county to pay for their installation or maintenance. He said they could be useful on some neighborhood streets, but not for widespread use.

“We have enough to do with paving the roads and trying to keep them in good shape,” he said. “A lot of county roads don’t need speed humps - they have plenty of them already.”

Davis contacted 11 counties on whether they use speed humps. Eight replied, with a total of two that allow them.

Bexar and Brazos counties have regulations. Both require a speed study first be conducted. The neighborhood or homeowners association is required to fund the speed study, the installation of the speed control device and for proper signage to warn drivers of the upcoming bump.

They also are not allowed on roads without curbs, because motorists will drive into the ditch to avoid the speed hump, Davis said.

Davis made a pros and cons list of their usage and decided the negatives outweigh the positives.

Those negatives included increased speed between bumps; diverting traffic onto other roads to avoid them; increased noise level from brakes and tires as cars go over the hump; increased vehicle emissions from acceleration and deceleration; increased response time for emergency vehicles and that they are an obstruction for bicycles.

The positives included reducing wrecks, speed and traffic in some areas.

Commissioners said they would re-evaluate the speed hump issue if a neighborhood or homeowners association was willing to front the cost of the devices.

In the meantime, Smith will look into the cost of purchasing a speed trailer and committed to appointing a point person or protocol set for residents to submit speeding concerns.

In other business:

The Smith County Commissioners Court approved extending the tax reinvestment zone for Reef Services for another five years.

In April 2011, the county approved creating a tax abatement zone for Reef Services, which is an oilfield chemicals producer headquartered in Midland. The abatement was for five years and is set to expire in December.

The extension of the zone does not mean the company will receive another abatement.

Felecia Herndon, vice president of finance for the Tyler Economic Development Council, said it will allow for future growth for the company. 

Twitter: @TMTFaith

 

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Digital Content Manager

Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.