Gables to spend $300,000 this year in traffic program
By Risa Polansky
Coral Gables will spend $300,000 this year to continue its 5-year-old traffic-calming program, city officials say.
Installing traffic circles, speed tables and medians, as well as realigning troublesome intersections, has "proved very effective," said Alberto Delgado, public works director. "We are addressing all the concerns of residents regarding any problem they have with traffic."
The city began the calming program in 2001, targeting 60 points at which to reduce speeding, traffic volume and accidents, City Manager David Brown said in an interview.
"When we have average speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour, we address that street," Mr. Delgado explained.
Coral Gables has added 53 traffic circles and made 20 other improvements to intersections under the program, Mr. Delgado said. This year, he said, the city will add 13 circles and improve seven intersections.
In a two-year survey of 43 traffic-circle intersections in the city, 39 had no accidents and the other four had no more than two during the two years, whereas, before the improvements, some had as many as one a month, Mr. Delgado said.
Speeding studies of newly improved areas show that "by putting in these traffic calmings, we've reduced the average speed to 30 to 35 miles per hour," Mr. Delgado said. "People are very happy with that."
Traffic, Mr. Brown said, became one of residents' "number-one concerns" in 1999.
"It was getting unbearable to live on some streets because of the traffic," Mr. Delgado agreed.
In the past, the city closed some streets in a bid to shelter residential areas, but now, Mr. Delgado said, "the approach is, traffic has to go through the city, but it has to go at the right speed."
Traffic circles and speed humps don't generally require stopping. Cars can move continuously, but more slowly.
Creating an intersection at which two streets meet at a right angle, rather than one street curving and flowing into another — which the city has done to 10 junctures by using asphalt to square off the curves — also helps reduce speeding and accidents.
"In Coral Gables, you see a lot of angle intersections. People fly through those," Mr. Delgado said. "When you make it perpendicular, people really have to fully stop. That modification is very effective."
Ultimately, he said, the program's purpose is "to preserve the quality of life in Coral Gables."