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SLOW DOWN: Speed limit changes on downtown streets

The speed limit on some downtown streets has been lowered from 20 mph to 15 mph effective immediately.

Washington’s City Council made that decision after conducting a public hearing on the matter at its meeting Monday after city staff recommended doing so. The lower speed limit is in effect in the following areas:

  • Main Street from Bridge Street to Bonner Street;
  • Second Street from Bridge Street to Bonner Street;
  • all of Stewart Parkway;
  • and all streets within those boundaries;
  • Water Street from Market Street to McNair Street.

The change is the result of studying traffic and parking issues in the downtown area, especially Water Street and Stewart Parkway.

“Lowering that speed down a little bit to 15 mph would allow us, in my mind, to make good, solid traffic tickets, and not just to write a ticket to be writing a ticket. … So, I make that a recommendation for Stewart Parkway,” said Stacy Drakeford, the city’s director of police and fire services, at council meeting earlier this year. He also recommended the 15-mph limit apply Main Street, too.

Lowering the speed limit is one way to address traffic-safety issues in the area of South Market Street, Stewart Parkway and Water Street, Drakeford said. He also suggested the city consider installing “traffic calming devices” such as speed bumps on specific areas of Water Street in an effort to control speeding. Council members expressed interest in the speed bumps, including combining speed bumps and pedestrian crosswalks into one device.

The council has not made a decision regarding the speed bumps.

In addition to the lower speed limit on Water Street and Stewart Parkway, Drakeford recommended the city enact a no-cruising ordinance that would apply to specified areas in the city. Such an ordinance is constitutional, according to Drakeford, who told the council he researched the matter.

The council has not made a decision concerning the no-cruising ordinance.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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