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Council approves speed limit changes

POSTED October 9, 2012 9:29 p.m.

Speed limits are set to change on two Turlock roads.

The Turlock City Council on Tuesday preliminarily approved a speed limit increase on Taylor Road between Golden State Boulevard and Berkeley Avenue, from 45 miles per hour to 55, and a decrease on Fransil Lane between West Main Street and Fulkerth Road, from 55 miles per hour to 50.

The changes come for different reasons, but both follow speed surveys conducted by Turlock’s engineering department, pursuant to California Vehicle Code. Such surveys are conducted every five years.

The speed survey on Taylor Road was conducted at the request of the Turlock Police Department. As the road has become more of a thoroughfare through the years, following the removal of stop signs and blocking of some road access, drivers’ average speed had increased well above the 45 mile per hour speed limit.

“Essentially, what we had out there was a speed trap,” City Engineer Mike Pitcock said. “We can’t do that.”

The survey showed that 85 percent of drivers navigated Taylor Road at approximately 55 miles per hour, necessitating a speed limit increase under state law.

Council members had some concerns about safety following the speed increase, noting the occasional flooding on Taylor Road following heavy rains.

“There have been days where I drowned staying in my lane,” Councilman Bill DeHart said.

Despite concerns, under state law Turlock is required to post a speed limit at that 85 percent speed, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson noted that drivers who do not drive at a safe speed for the conditions may be ticketed, even if their speed is below the posted limit. Jackson also stated the Turlock Police will continue to pursue their current speed enforcement policy which targets high-accident areas, not money-making speed traps.

The Fransil Lane speed limit was previously posted at 55 miles per hour. The survey indicated traffic currently flows at 55 miles per hour in that area, but Pitcock has the authority to reduce the speed limit by up to 5 miles per hour if circumstances necessitate a lower speed.

Based on the numerous residences on the street, and the potentially unsafe situation created by residents attempting to back out of driveways, Pitcock suggested the lowest speed possible.

 “I didn't think 55 miles per hour was safe, so I did lower it as best I could to 50 miles per hour,” Pitcock said.

The speed limits will change following a final adoption of the ordinance, expected Oct. 23. No other speed limits in Turlock will change.

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