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Council considering 15 mph speed limit for parkway, street

At its June meeting, Washington’s City Council will consider lowering the speed limit on Stewart Parkway and Water street to 15 mph and enacting a no-cruising ordinance for specific areas in the city.

After Stacy Drakeford, the city’s director of police and fire services, recommend the change, the council, during its meeting Monday, decided to conduct a public hearing on the proposed change. The city would have to amend its ordinances to lower the speed limit.

“Lowering that speed down a little bit to 15 mph would allow us, in my mind, to make good, solid traffic tickets, and not just to write a ticket to be writing a ticket. … So, I make that a recommendation for Stewart Parkway,” Drakeford said. He also recommended the 15-mph limit apply Main Street, too.

Lowering the speed limit is one way to address traffic-safety issues in the area of South Market Street, Stewart Parkway and Water Street, Drakeford said. He also suggested the city consider installing “traffic calming devices” such as speed bumps on specific areas of Water Street in an effort to control speeding. Council members expressed interest in the speed bumps, including combining speed bumps and pedestrian crosswalks into one device.

Drakeford also suggested eliminating three parking spaces on the north side of Water Street where it meets South Market Street or eliminating the nine parking spaces on the north side of the 100 block of Water Street. Councilman Doug Mercer reminded Drakeford that in February the council voted to take the needed steps to prohibit parking on the north side (by removing nine parking spaces) of the 100 block of Water Street. That would require amending city ordinances, which has not occurred yet.

Drakeford, as instructed by the council, had a traffic study performed in the Water Street/South Market Street/Stewart Parkway area and develop traffic-control recommendations based on the study’s findings. VHB Engineering, based in Raleigh, conducted the study.

“They did a traffic count for us. They did a right- and left-hand turn count for us. They did a classification of vehicles for us. They also did a speed measurement for us,” Drakeford said. I that three- or four-day (period) they were here, they counted a little over 8,600 vehicles just in that Water Street area, heading east and west.”

In addition to the lower speed limit on Water Street and Stewart Parkway, Drakeford recommended the city enact a no-cruising ordinance that would apply to specified areas in the city. Such an ordinance is constitutional, according to Drakeford, who told the council he researched the matter.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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