A recent accident in Lakelands has prompted residentsâ€™ calls for the city to revisit speed control measures on Gatestone Street.
Just before 10 p.m. on the night of Aug. 5, a driver coming from Main Street hit several parked cars on both sides of Gatestone Street before flipping onto its side and coming to a stop. Gaithersburg Police and several emergency vehicles responded.
The uninjured driver, a 33-year-old Brent D. Price of College Park, Md., was charged with DUI, negligent driving, reckless driving and failure to control vehicle speed to avoid a collision.
Following the incident, Gatestone Street resident Jennifer Coulson sent an email to Gaithersburg Engineering Services Director Ollie Mumpower asking if speed bumps or other traffic calming devices could be reconsidered for the street.
â€śSpeeding has always been an issue on this street,â€ť said Coulson. She said speed studies had been conducted by the city in the past but that the only outcome was implementation of parking restrictions along one side of the street.
Jim Allison was among those whose car was damaged in the incident. Price allegedly hit the back left side of Allisonâ€™s vehicle, pushing it up onto the curb before the driverâ€™s own car bounced off and onto its side in the middle of the street. Allison is still waiting for an estimate on repair costs.
Allison has lived in his Gatestone Street home for 12 years and said he and other residents met with a Gaithersburg City Council member not long after he moved in to discuss the problem of speeding on his street.
â€śEvery now and then youâ€™ll hear the screech of cars as they come around the curve. â€¦ There is room for cars to pass, but itâ€™s tight,â€ť said Allison. â€śPeople drive too fast for the conditions in the neighborhood.â€ť
This is not the first time he has had a car damaged when parked in front of his house. In 2003 or 2004, he said, his car was sideswiped and the mirror taken off by a speeding driver.
â€ś[Speeding] is still a problem here,â€ť said Allison. â€śNot anything really has been done except traveling signs [showing driversâ€™ current speed] once in a while. â€¦ That doesnâ€™t seem to do any good.â€ť
According to Mumpower, at least three speed studies have been conducted by the cityâ€™s Public Works Department on Gatestone Street.
â€śUp to this point, we â€” [the police and I] â€” [have] never been able to find a speeding problem to the degree residents are talking about,â€ť he said.
Mumpower said he receives a lot of requests for stop signs to control speeding. â€śWe donâ€™t use stop signs, nor does any other municipality I know of, for speeding. They are not effective.â€ť
Speed humps can slow down speeds to 25 â€“ 30 mph, he said, though 5 percent of drivers will still exceed the speed limit by 10 mph.
â€śThe issue is that every time we are asked to put speed humps in, the speeds are already within those levels,â€ť he said. â€śSpeed humps are not going to help then.â€ť
Mumpower said the last time a study was conducted on Gatestone Street, speed in one direction was a little larger than in the past. â€śWe will look again to see if the situation has changed,â€ť he said. â€śIf the study reveals there is a problem, we will come back to the community and ask for HOA support [for implementing speed humps or other traffic control measures.]â€ť
Using input from Coulson regarding placement locations, Public Works employees will lay counters down on Gatestone Street this week or next to measure vehicle speed and volume in both directions, said Mumpower. The counters will stay in place for about a week before he gets them back to do some analysis.
According to Mumpower, the key number in this type of study is the 85th percentile speed. For example, if the speed study comes back showing an 85th percentile speed of 25 mph, â€śthis means 85 percent of drivers [on the street] are traveling that speed or lower,â€ť he said.
â€śOften people see someone speeding and want us to do something about that,â€ť he said. â€śReally there isnâ€™t any traffic calming device that will resolve that one person speeding. â€¦ We want to get as many people as we can in compliance with the speed limit, and thatâ€™s what traffic calming does.â€ť
Allowing time for recounts, if necessary, Mumpower said he should have results of the study within about 30 days.