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City to study traffic reducers

Seminole officials rule out speed humps but study other ways to stem traffic. They also hope to purchase green space.

By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002


SEMINOLE -- The city hopes to keep its residential streets from turning into high-traffic thoroughfares, but it won't use speed humps to accomplish the job.

Officials say they will try other traffic-calming devices, such as narrowing a road, installing landscaped medians or erecting a stop sign to reduce traffic on neighborhood streets.

"We're not quite so sure (speed humps) achieve their intended purpose," City Manager Frank Edmunds said Thursday.

The humps reduce speed and volume, but they often just move traffic problems from one street to another, he said. The device also slows emergency vehicles and costs almost $3,000, he said.

Edmunds and Mitch Bobowski, Seminole's general services director, presented information about traffic-calming measures at a workshop Tuesday. City Council members agreed that speed humps aren't the best solution to traffic problems.

The council also decided Tuesday to start a process for dealing with citizens' traffic complaints. The city will:

Meet with residents and identify the problem.

Conduct a study and analyze traffic data.

Hold a public hearing to discuss proposed traffic-calming measures.

Approve or reject traffic-calming devices based on study data and input from public hearing.

The council also authorized staff Tuesday to resubmit a grant application that, if accepted, will enable the city to purchase 22 acres of green space.

The land, which abuts Long Bayou, is east of Seminole Boulevard at the end of 68th and 70th avenues. For years, Edwina Hutchison, owner of the property, has refused to sell to developers.

Mrs. Hutchison prefers that the land remain undeveloped. She has offered to sell the property for $1.8-million to the city as long as it keeps the land as green space.

The city applied last year for a grant from Florida Forever, a state agency that provides funding to local governments and nonprofit environmental organizations for land acquisition for conservation, open space and outdoor recreation. But Seminole didn't make the cut.

Last year Forever Florida had $133-million of funding. It received 155 applications and awarded 55. Seminole ranked 113th.

Edmunds said cities that won the grants offered to match the price of the land they wanted to buy. Seminole offered to cover only 25 percent, the minimum amount, he said.

This time the city will offer to pay half the price, Edmunds said. "It will definitely have a better chance in the ranking," he said.

Unfortunately, he added, the agency's funding is only $66-million this year, about half of last year's amount. "So the competition will be more difficult and the funding will be more limited," he said.

If Seminole is successful in its bid, the city would issue a bond to cover its half of the investment. The application deadline is July 30.

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