BR council to consider 25 mph speed limits for subdivisions

Traffic could soon be slowing down in Baton Rouge neighborhoods.

The Metro Council is considering a proposal to reduce speed limits in most subdivisions from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour as a safety measure.

The council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the change at its May 28 meeting.

Matt Watson, a legislative assistant to Metro Councilman Ryan Heck who has been working on the effort, said the plan was devised after months of studying the feasibility. He said the change would be in line with FutureBR, the city-parish master plan.

“We’ve seen a large push from (home owners associations) around town to implement traffic calming measures and make it safer in people’s neighborhoods,” Watson said. “This is the culmination of traffic studies and where the city wants to go with FutureBR.”

The Capital Heights Neighborhood Association earlier this year complained about cars speeding down its streets. WBRZ reported that the neighborhood group submitted dozens of letters from concerned residents to the city-parish government.

Frequently, the issue has been cars taking shortcuts through the neighborhood.

The Goodwood Property Owners’ Association also has raised concerns about speeding cars cutting through its neighborhood.

On top of the potential speed limit change, Goodwood homeowners have proposed a set of other road changes to curb traffic. Those plans include new stop signs, speed bumps and reconfiguring traffic directions.

Watson said the lower speed limit will also help as the parish makes way for more bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.

“It’s by no means a situation where people will have to ride the brake, but we think it will make things safer,” he said.

Watson described Capital Heights as “a prime example” of the neighborhoods that will benefit from a lower speed limit.

Capital Heights Avenue is a one-way street that runs parallel to Government Street from Acadian Parkway to Jefferson Highway. It has a bike lane and pedestrian walkway on either side.

“It would make sense that you would want to slow traffic on that street,” Watson said.

Under the current process, neighborhoods can petition to have their speed limits reduced. Watson said that has created a hodgepodge of shifting speed limits.

“We’re thinking this will make a big difference and keep things consistent,” he said.

Watson said he expects the costs to be negligible if the proposal is approved by the Metro Council because the current signs can be reused with new numbers.

“It’s going to be very cost efficient, but it’s going to send a message,” he said.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of city-parish government, follow our City Hall blog at http://blogs.the advocate.com/cityhallbuzz.