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Traffic calming policy discussed in Buda

By Moses Leos III

The possible implementation of a new traffic policy in Buda could provide residents a way to curb the issue of speeding in area neighborhoods.

On April 26, the Buda Planning and Zoning commission gathered public input following a presentation on the possible policy.

While the city council has not implemented the policy, he said its impact could provide residents “peace of mind.”

“It gives people an opportunity to be proactive, if they want to,” Ruge said. “It gives them the skin of the game and that they have a stake in it.”

Creating the policy, according to Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd, arose after the city sought to respond to concerns of cut-through traffic in residential neighborhoods. The policy would not, however, extend to arterial roads.

Kidd said the city received complaints from residents in Old Town regarding speeding traffic on neighborhood streets. He said people who cut-through the neighborhood are trying to avoid the FM 967 and Main Street traffic signal during rush hour.

Other issues extend to areas in Whispering Hollow and Garlic Creek.

Kidd said after gathering public input, the city decided there needed to be a procedure in place to mitigate such problems in the future.

“As the city grows, these issues will come up, so we can’t just throw darts at the problems,” Kidd said. “We have to have a process to work through the issues.”

In late 2015, Buda hired Friese and Nichols to help craft the new policy. According to a Friese and Nichols representative, the policy is a way of addressing problems that currently exist, but also look ahead to development styles in the future to “anticipate what could happen.”

Problems surrounding cut-through traffic can be addressed via a request process, which is initiated by residents, businesses, or a school. The city also holds authority to proactively conduct a study in advance.

Buda would hold several public meetings to talk with residents about any issues before planning a required traffic study. Funding for any study would be split between the requesting party and the city. 

The study, which would be commissioned by the city manager, would assess the volume and speed of traffic on streets.

For the process to move forward, the overall study area must have an estimated percentage of cut-through traffic during peak morning and evening periods, a 24-hour period and a Saturday and Sunday period.

Once the city determines if there is a need, it will then determine what level of traffic calming is needed.

Level one focuses on public education and enforcement, which could see radar trailers and increased police enforcement.

The second level would extend to implementing measures such as restricted access signage and reducing the speed limit.

The final two levels, Level 3 and 4, call for adding measures such as speed humps, chicanes, or total reconfiguration of the roadway.

Funding for Level 1 and 2 measures would fall entirely on the city. Level 3 and 4 measures could have the city discuss with residents a way to split the costs.

But the representatives said in other cities, Level 3 and 4 measures “may create more problems” than solutions.

Kidd said the policy, if enacted by council, would help the city gain a much better perspective on traffic issues moving forward. He added elements, such as infrastrucuture improvements under the city’s $55 milllion bond, could help alleviate congestion that’s leading to cut-through traffic in downtown.

“It will be a great policy moving forward,” Kidd said. “As the city grows, these things will come up eventually. Having this ordinance and policy will help city staff.”

Ruge said the city will still need to discuss with officials with Emergency Service District NO. 8 to make sure they are “okay and sign off on it.”

“We haven’t implemented anything and have to tweak (the policy) for Buda,” he said.

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