By Kathy Lee Scott/Garden Grove Journal
Legal traffic speeds in Garden Grove are going up.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Garden Grove City Council voted 5-0 to raise the limits on 12 streets by 5 m.p.h. or more. People can now drive historic Main Street at 25 m.p.h. instead of 15 m.p.h., the only street with a 10-m.p.h. jump.
In all, 29 segments got faster speed limits. No street got slower limits.
Each segment is about a half-mile, said Bill Murray, city engineer, depending on the street.
The city last took a detailed look at its traffic in 2001, with updates in 2008, according to Dan Candelaria, traffic engineer. A professional engineer drove around the city to see the physical conditions of the roads. He counted the how many cars traversed 142 locations and noted the speeds drivers went using a calibrated radar gun, the traffic engineer said.
“Most of the roads kept the same speed limits,” Candelaria said. “We don’t have a lot of safety problems on our roads.”
The streets are well-designed and maintained, he added. “We use a grid system so no single street carries a lot of traffic. It’s spread over several.”
Other features that lower traffic accident rates include straight roads, street lights and filled potholes, Candelaria said. According to the February 2010 report from the city’s transportation consultants, all accident rates for city streets fell below their average expected accident rates.
Candelaria said the main reason the speed limits increased was a change in how they’re calculated. “Before, we would set them to closest, lower speed limit, and then we could lower it further if certain conditions applied,” he said. If the traffic study showed 85 percent of drivers went 38 m.p.h, the city would lower the limit to 35 mph. In certain situations (such as the number of pedestrians and bicyclists and stopping sight distances, among others), it could lower that further to 30 m.p.h.
“Now we have to round the limits to the closest 5-mile increment,” he said. So a 38 mph finding would become 40 m.p.h.
“It’s not that people are driving faster,” he said.
Also, the council approved issuing $20 million in tax-exempt bonds to help fund the first expansion of the Embassy Suites Hotel, 11767 Harbor Blvd. The hotel owner, Landmark Hotels LLC, would borrow $20 million from the city to add meeting rooms and restaurant spaces.
However, the project is on hold pending the state’s decision to give Garden Grove the funds. “The state may decide to give the money to another city with a more worthy project,” said Chet Yoshizaki, economic development director.
The city has already been given $4.7 million, which it earmarked for the Embassy Suites expansion. But without the additional funds, “our allotment is too small for this project,” he said.