In 2014, Caltrans performed a traffic engineering speed study on SR 45 in the Town of Princeton.
“The existing speed study was due to expire and required updating,” said Colusa County Public Works Director, Scott Lanphier, “The results of the new speed study indicated the 85th percentile speeds could require raising the speed limit from 35 mph to 40mpm.”
Following Caltrans’ decision to raise the speed limit to 40 mph, a series of community meeting were held and the decision was made by the County Board of Supervisors and the Town of Princeton to develop alternatives to raising the speed limit.
“The community of Princeton has schools, businesses, shops and residents who live along Highway 45,” said Colusa County District 5 Supervisor, Denise Carter, “Raising the speed limit per the Caltrans directive was unacceptable.”
The concerns Princeton residents had with the speed limit increase included: no turn pockets onto side streets, three crosswalks in the highway, no sidewalks for pedestrians, a children’s park adjacent to the highway, fire department traffic, business clustering and traffic, perpendicular parking, town post office adjacent to the highway, a high school with an open campus for lunch, and pedestrian traffic at all times during the day, extreme weather and fog conditions, and high traffic from farm equipment and tractor trailers.
“The Colusa County Department of Public Works researched various ways to implement low-cost speed reduction measures on two-lane highways in rural communities,” said Lanphier, “Based on other types of studies conducted in other States, an experimental application for ‘optical speed chevrons’ was prepared and submitted to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA), Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as well as the California Committee on Traffic Control Devices for approval.”
Lanphier’s experiential optical speed chevrons project was approved and is set to be implemented during the month of September, pending CalTrans permitting process.
“The project consists of several elements all intended to contribute to reducing traffic speeds,” said Lanphier, “these include innovative and experimental striping, enhanced crosswalk striping, a concrete “bulb-out” at the town’s center crosswalk, painted shoulders to simulate stamped concrete, and enhanced signing.”
The project was recently awarded to R&R Horn, Inc. out of Chico, CA for just under $100,000 and is expected to be complete before October 2015.
“After completion, Caltrans will re-examine traffic speeds in Princeton,” said Lanphier, “If the speeds are successfully reduced, the speed limit will remain at 35 mph.”
Caltrans and the County will share maintenance on the project, said Lanphier.
“I would like to express my thanks to the community of Princeton for their participation and support in not raising the speed limit, and for their efforts of the County Public Works to develop a creative approach to slow traffic down,” said Carter, “I am looking forward to installing these new approaches of calming the traffic in town.”