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ARBITER: REDUCE SPEED BUMPS

A report recommends scaling back Carrollwood traffic calming, to the tune of $105K.

Years of efforts to slow traffic in Carrollwood Village have cost Hillsborough County officials good will and credibility with the area's 10,000 residents.

Now the mistakes of the past could cost county taxpayers $105,000, too.

An arbitrator has recommended that the county remove a few sections of raised pavement in Carrollwood Village and some of the many traffic signs.

Good, said resident Jennifer Fritch. But she said the project never should have gotten this far.

"My biggest thing that I'm upset about is that we had to pay the money to put them in," said Fritch, who has led opposition to the traffic-calming project since last November.

The county put construction on hold in February and decided in May to hire an arbitrator to sort through residents' objections.

"Now we've got to pay to take them out," she said.

The County Commission is scheduled to consider the arbitrator's recommendations Wednesday. Public works officials are recommending that commissioners approve the proposed changes, which would still leave many traffic-calming devices in place.

They say the additional work would cost $105,000. Money for the repairs is available in the county's neighborhood traffic calming project budget.

The traffic-calming measures - humps, raised speed tables, marked pavement and signs galore - were installed as part of a $2.3 million project to reduce speeding, reckless driving and cut-through traffic in both Carrollwood Village and Original Carrollwood.

In Carrollwood Village, residents have complained that the speed humps delay emergency vehicles and the signs clutter their community.

The measures proved to be controversial in Original Carrollwood, too, though for different reasons. There, the commissioners decided in May to reduce the total number of humps planned but to leave most of those already installed in place.

In Carrollwood Village, commissioners and county officials helped create the dispute through a series of "well intentioned" decisions, arbitrator Wilson Lorenz concluded.

One of the problems was that the county applied traffic-calming methods typically done in smaller individual neighborhoods to an area of 3,200 homes.

The decisions initially followed the county's guidelines, wrote Lorenz, the managing principal for engineering in the Tampa office of IBI Group.

But as the interest among various neighborhoods within Carrollwood Village grew, "the process became unmanageable," he said in the report.

On Casey Road, the raised intersection tables are already showing signs of distress and wear, Lorenz said. Removing them probably would not cost more than maintaining them for a year or two.

While Fritch welcomed the proposed changes on Casey Road and loved the idea that many signs would be removed, she said many other recommendations seemed too vague.

For example, Lorenz noted that some speed humps should not be near stop signs or on curves but recommended only that they be re-evaluated to see "whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages."

"I'm very interested to see what the county will do with the suggestions that aren't clear," Fritch said.

While the arbitration was intended to provide a package solution, public works spokesman Steve Valdez said commissioners could consider the recommendations individually.

Traffic-calming recommendations

Here are some of arbitrator Wilson Lorenz's recommendations for Carrollwood Village:

- Remove three raised speed tables on Casey Road south of Lowell Road.

- Remove speed cushions on Carrollwood Village Run.

- Remove many traffic-calming warning signs.

- Install speed feedback signs as planned.

- Remove bike lane signs if long stretches of bike lanes cannot be provided.

- Leave speed humps on Old Orchard Drive, Golf Crest Drive and the rest of the streets in the Golf Crest neighborhood.

- Leave raised intersections on Lowell Road, but repair damage to the brick pavers.

- Check the slopes of all raised pavement and correct, if necessary, to prevent damage to cars.

On the Web

To read the arbitrator's 452-page report, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/publicworks/carrolwood.cfm and click on "Carrollwood Village Neighborhood Traffic Calming Arbitrator Resolution."

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