Speed change on four LaGrange roads

Published 6:50 pm Sunday, November 19, 2017

Three local roads received increased speed limit postings last week due to Georgia Department of Transportation requirements that must be met in order for the LaGrange Police Department to be allowed to continue running radar on those roads.

Last Tuesday, the LaGrange City Council voted to approve GDOT recommendations in order to allow the LPD to continue to check those roads for speeders. Callaway Church Road, Vernon Street and Hammett Road all saw speed limit increases to reflect the average speed that drivers travel down those roads, and Ann Baily Way was added to the approved list for the first time.

“There are basically four changes to the existing permit that we have today,” City Manager Meg Kelsey said on Tuesday. “One is an increase of speed on Callaway Church Road to 45 miles per hour. Also, Vernon Street would start at 45 miles per hour as you exit the city at Ferrell Drive, so that is a change. Hammett Road, they’ve actually increased to 45 miles per hour, which as you know we’ve had comments over the past couple years that people would really like to see that speed limit lowered. Ann Bailey Way is actually a new addition that wasn’t on our list before, so we do have that permit for 35 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour for the school zone.”

Members of the city council were somewhat hesitant to increase the speed limits on these roads, especially on Hammett Road where they have previously received complaints that cars already travel too fast. However, they were assured that the new regulations would actually better reflect the current speed that vehicles travel while singling out cars that are traveling dangerously fast.

“Based upon the 85th percentile speed of vehicles traveling on Callaway Church Road, they’ve asked that the speed limit of vehicles on that road be increased to 45 miles per hour,” said Lt. Mark Kostial of the LaGrange Police Department. “As for Hammett Road, two speed studies have been conducted on Hammett Road. Hammett Road is currently posted as a 35 mile per hour speed limit road, however the 85th percentile on Hammett Road is determined to be 52 miles per hour.”

That percentage would mean that if the LPD attempted to stop every car traveling over the 35 mile per hour speed limit, most cars on the road would have to be stopped.

“That is the speed at which 85 percent of the vehicles do not exceed,” Kostial said. “Based upon the results of the speed studies, the Georgia Department of Transportation has recommended that we increase the speed limit on Hammett Road to 45 miles per hour. I looked at it again this afternoon on my way to this meeting and noticed that Hammett Road is very similar to Youngs Mill Road beginning in the 400 block which is also posted as a 45 mile per hour speed limit zone. I also pulled some wreck data this evening and determined that we’ve got approximately one wreck per month being investigated on Hammett Road between Youngs Mill Road and the city limits.”

Ultimately, the city council agreed to review the radar permit with GDOT’s changes in order to allow the LPD to continue using radar on those roads.

“GDOT goes out and inspects the roads, and they recommend that in order for us to continue running radar, we have to make these changes,” Mayor Jim Thornton said.

The LaGrange City Council is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Avenue.