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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 19, 2017

Supervisors, Vedic City discuss roads

By DIANE VANCE | Jul 15, 2013
Maharishi Vedic City attorney, Nancy Watkins, from left, and Jefferson County Board of Supervisors, chairman Lee Dimmitt, Dick Reed and Becky Schmitz, review the 28E Agreement between the two governmental bodies for road maintenance today. Sitting behind Watkins, in the audience, is Jack Ritz.

Jefferson County and Maharishi Vedic City have discussed this fiscal year’s 28E Agreement for road maintenance through the past month.

Today, Assistant County Attorney Pat McAvan said the county and city agree on everything except one paragraph and county engineer Scott Cline has reviewed the sticking point.

“To set speed limits at anything other than 45 mph, which is the accepted suburban development limits, requires an engineering traffic study,” said Cline. “From everything that’s been given to me [before Cline took the job] the speed limits [of 45 mph on Jasmine Avenue and 170th Street] were not based on an engineering study and need to be properly established.”

The county and city have had ongoing discussions at board of supervisors meetings earlier in the year and last year about the posted 45 mph speed limit on Jasmine Avenue and 170th Street. Some of those signs were taken down at the board’s request when it felt they were not properly established.

Kent Boyum, director of economic development and government relations for Maharishi Vedic City referred to a discussion and understanding about the 45 mph speed limit signs with the former county engineer Tom Gogh, who retired June 30, 2012.

“We asked for them along 170th Street and were surprised, but didn’t disagree, when some also were placed on Jasmine Avenue,” Boyum said.

Boyum and city attorney Nancy Watkins attended today’s Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting, sharing the latest 28E Agreement approved Friday at a city council meeting in Maharishi Vedic City.

The city council approved added language about roads that fall entirely within city limits could be approved by the city in consultation with the county engineer.

“I think we are all talking about the same things,” said supervisor Dick Reed, during a lengthy discussion. “I don’t see anything wrong with either one.”

Cline said he’d need to conduct an engineering traffic study.

“I’ve been out there and looked at the signs, so essentially, the study has started,” said Cline. “I’ve spoken with the company that can do the traffic count. I’m reluctant to start it without an agreement in place.”

Cline said a traffic study counts the number and speed of vehicles and includes community surveys and more.

Supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt asked what Cline wanted to establish with a traffic study and how much it would cost.

Cline said it wouldn’t cost much, and to legally establish speed limits, an engineering study is required.

Audience member and resident on 170th Street, Jack Ritz, asked where the county’s former traffic counter was, because it used to have one and Cline shouldn’t’ need to hire a company.

Cline said he didn’t know, but the newer counters input data about vehicle speed into a computer.

“We think it should be 45 mph on 170th Street,” said Boyum.

“But the city ordinance you passed says 35 mph,” said Cline.

“And you’re telling us we have no authority over the speed limits,” said Boyum. “Where there are no signs, its 55 mph.”

McAvan said where Jasmine Avenue is marked 45 mph, he doesn’t see that speed limit increasing.

“So the roads out there were 55 mph and as Maharishi Vedic City grew, it shouldn’t be 55 mph in places,” said Reed attempting to distill and conclude the discussion. “I still think we are talking the same thing.

“We have residents of Jefferson County who have been driving these roads for years and haven’t seen much change to need different speed limits.”

Cline said that is why a traffic study is helpful.

Watkins said no one is objecting to an engineering traffic study, as it would promote good communication.

“What we envision is 45 mph on 170th Street and Iris Avenue/Invincible America Avenue, which is gravel, should be 45 or maybe 35 mph,” said Boyum.

Schmitz asked if everyone around the table could agree on 45 mph for 170th Street.

“I think 45 mph is an appropriate speed limit on 170th,” said Reed. “This isn’t an engineering study, it’s common sense. There are houses, the hotel and entry ways along 170th Street.”

Cline reiterated to legally establish speed limits and lawfully enforce them, a traffic study needs to be done.

McAvan told the supervisors and Boyum and Watkins not to put specific speed limits into the 28E Agreement itself, otherwise it would need to be amended for every change.

“Approve the contract, then Maharishi Vedic City and the engineer can sign something separate about specific speed limits,” McAvan said.

The supervisors and representatives of Maharishi Vedic City agreed 45 mph was an appropriate speed limit on 170th Street that was within city limits.

The board of supervisors also agreed to approve the 28E Agreement as originally drafted, without the added language approved by Maharishi Vedic City council.

The contract will return to the city for approval.

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