Council discusses road designs meant to slow speeders

Kate Pezzulli,
The Prosper Press
A speed limit sign is shown on Gentle Creek Trail near intersection of Coit Road. At the June 23 Prosper Town Council meeting, council members discussed updating local roadway design standards to help reduce speeding.

Not every item on a town or city council agenda is entertaining. Sometimes they don’t get much debate at all. Other times, though, the agenda features a hot-ticket item like “proposed updates to the Roadway Design Standards” and things may start to get interesting.

Such an item was discussed at the June 23 Prosper Town Council meeting. It included proposed updates to roadway designs should pique the interest of most Prosper residents who drives on local streets.

Dan Heischman, assistant director of engineering services – development, gave the presentation for the proposed updates. Several of the design items discussed were specific to traffic calming.

The intent of the designs is to slow traffic within Prosper developments, but to also provide something that is aesthetically pleasing, Heischman said.

The items included chicanes, split islands and raised intersections at cross walks. A PowerPoint presentation during the meeting showed photos of three different road features.

Islands are design elements that are placed in the middle of a street in order to make the driver slow in order to move around them.

Raised intersections refer to a raised area within an intersection that works to slow down drivers, similar to a speed bump.

Chicanes are curves in a road that “may be designed using a return angle of 45 degrees, or a more gradual taper and transition, resulting in an S-shaped roadway,” according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The designs are supposed to make the roads safer, but they are not foolproof.

Council member Craig Andres said that there are places in town that already have curvilinear streets or islands that aren’t doing a good job of slowing down drivers.

“People are flying down Gentle Creek Trail,” Andres said. “At that point, are we just counting on enforcement?”

“It’s not going to be a catchall,” Heischman said. “Enforcement still needs to be a component.”

Andres continued, asking if there was anything else that the town could do to dissuade drivers from speeding.

“It is one of the big things that people comment to me on,” Andres said. “It becomes sometimes a hostile situation, to be honest with you.”

Heischman said that it is a common issue that may not be able to be eliminated completely, but that they are trying to find some standards that try to help reduce speeding.

Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem Jason Dixon brought up the need for extra lighting in areas with chicanes to help ensure that drivers can see that there is a curve in the road at night.

“I would prefer lighting there because we’ve had to go back in town and add reflectors to a lot of the curves in town,” Dixon said.

“We’re doing mountable curbs, so you’re not hitting a solid 6-inch curb,” Heischman said. “The 3-inch mountable curb usually slows them down enough to get to that 25 (miles per hour) they should be driving.”

The designs may not stop speeders entirely, but the idea is to make it more difficult to do so as well as to help make the streets of Prosper safer.