LAWRENCEVILLE — When a local business owner contacted Jace Brooks about concerns that people were continually speeding around a curve, often ending up striking cars in the parking lot, the commissioner started to look for solutions.
And while the Gwinnett Department of Transportation added signs and even rumble strips, Brooks’ hopes to lower the speed limit on Sawmill Drive in Suwanee were unsuccessful last week.
“I was disappointed that we couldn’t get it lowered,” Brooks said of the vote last week that set the county’s new speed ordinance, lowering the official speed limit on 12 streets and raising it on one.
“But the state is where you have to get permission,” he added. “If you don’t have the state’s approval, we couldn’t run radar (for police checks) on it.”
Every three years, Gwinnett updates its speed zones, said DOT Director Kim Conroy. As is common, the majority of the changes this time around came from new neighborhood streets added to the official ordinance.
For existing streets, the process of changing the speed limit is complicated.
Officials must conduct engineering and traffic investigation reports, which include the roadway classification, speed limit of roads with similar functionality in the area, roadway geometrics and characteristics, accident history and perform a speed study to calculate the average and 85th percentile speeds, Conroy said.
“The intent of establishing speed zones on roads is to establish the maximum speed at which traffic can safely and efficiently travel, based on the factors studied,” Conroy said.
Even though Gwinnett’s engineers requested lowering Sawmill’s speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph “based on the results of the analysis and using discretionary engineering judgment,” the state agency rejected the idea because the average speed and 85th percentile speed were higher than the current posted speed limit, Conroy said, adding that other factors were weighed too.
If the county approved the change without the state’s OK, then police officers would not have been able to enforce the speed limit, he said.
But the process worked for other roads, Brooks said, adding that Suwanee officials have worried for years about the 55 mph limit on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard through the city.
“It was starting to be a safety issue with people pulling out of businesses,” he said, noting the commercial growth of the corridor.
The only increase during this year’s changes came to the collector-distributor lanes of Interstate 85.
Conroy said the state asked for the increase, so that the speed limit matches the limit on the main lanes of the interstate.
2013 COUNTY REPORT ON SPEED LIMITS
• Bethesda Church Road - Updated ordinance to match what was currently posted in the field. (30 mph from US 29/SR 8 to Bethesda Park Court)
• Campbell Road – Lowered from 45 mph to 35 mph (Alcovy Road to Brooks Road) due to alignment modifications and interchange with Sugarloaf Parkway Extension.
• Collins Industrial Way / Lonnie Harvel Boulevard / Tree Creek Boulevard - Updated ordinance to match road name changes near the Georgia Gwinnett College campus.
• Drowning Creek Road - Updated ordinance to match what was currently posted in the field. (40 mph from Harbins Road to SR 316, 35 mph from SR 316 to Dacula City Limits, & 25 mph from Dacula city Limits to the dead-end)
- Lakeview Road – Lowered from 40 mph to 35 mph (SR 84 to Pharrs Road) due to citizen request and for consistency with roads of similar characteristics in the area.
- Lenora Church Road - Lowered from 50 mph to 45 mph (Temple Johnson Road to Rockdale County Line) due to citizen request and traffic conditions in the recreation area (Lenora Park and Aquatic Center).
- Main Street (Buford) – Updated ordinance based on a City of Buford Resolution related to speed limit on East Main Street (lowered to 25 mph).
• McGinnis Ferry Road / Northbrook Parkway - Update ordinance due to the recently completed McGinnis Ferry Road Extension Project.
- McGinnis Ferry Road - 45 mph (Fulton County Line to Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road)
- Northbrook Parkway - 40 mph (Old Peachtree Road to Old Peachtree Road)
• Peachtree Industrial Boulevard - For consistency throughout jurisdictions and similar roadway characteristics along the corridor modified speed limits due to City and citizen requests.
- 45 mph from SR 141 (Peachtree Parkway) to SR 20 (Nelson Brogdon Boulevard)
- 50 mph from SR 20 (Nelson Brogdon Boulevard) to Hall County Line
• SR 211 (Old Winder Hwy) - Update ordinance per Georgia DOT’s decision to lower the speed limit from 55 mph to 50 mph.
• SR 403 (NB & SB CD Roads) - Update ordinance per Georgia DOT’s decision to raise the existing 55 mph posting to 65 mph on the I-85 CD Roads between Pleasant Hill Road and north of Old Peachtree Road.
• Sweetwater Road - Updated ordinance to match what was currently posted in the field. (35 mph from Old Norcross Road to Club Drive)
• Whitehead Road - Lowered from 45 mph to 40 mph (Suwanee Dam Road to Sugar Ridge Drive) due to citizen request and for consistency with roads of similar characteristics in the area.
• New Roads - Included any new roads added since the last speed zone ordinance due to developments. (See attachment)