Kirkwood Police Department conducts study to determine safest solution to speeding
By: KATIE HAYES
South Geyer Road is a commonly used route for many Meramec students, but traffic slowed down considerably this semester.
On Dec. 7, 2015, two three-way stop signs were installed on South Geyer Road for a 90-day trial period.
Speed of traffic caused concern for residents with children who board the school buses on South Geyer Road. A resident presented the Kirkwood City Council with a petition for a solution to speeding traffic.
However, the stop signs have received mixed reviews from residents as well as students and faculty from Meramec.
“I wanted to do an analysis and then, at the end of it, I wanted to look the citizens right in the eye and say ‘we can do this or we can’t,’” Kirkwood Police Chief Jack Plummer said. “It’s real important to me that we go as far as we can when a request comes in.”
The Kirkwood Police Department wants to conduct research for two weeks while Meramec classes are in session. An additional week will be dedicated to do some other accounts. The rest of the time is reserved for analyzing the information gathered. During this time, Chief Plummer does not plan to change the amount of patrol on Geyer.
“As we’re doing the study, we’re trying not to influence anything,” Plummer said. “You know, if we put extra patrol while the study is in progress, it’s gonna taint the numbers and if we don’t do any patrols, it has a tendency or a possibility of tainting numbers.”
The aim of the analysis is to determine how people truly drive, not how they drive when an officer watches them.
“If we sit there, people are gonna drive different,” Plummer said. “To come up with the right answer, we have to have good information. We don’t wanna alter the information.”
On Jan. 18, there was an incident at one of the stop signs, between two cars. One of the women involved went to the hospital.
“We’re finding that a lot of people roll through because they don’t want to really slow down,” Mayor Arthur McDonnell said.
We’ve gotten a lot of feedback. There have been a lot of people who live on Geyer and also, we’ve gotten some communication from the community college itself, McDonnell said.
Kirkwood City Hall received six complaints from Meramec faculty and staff regarding the stop signs.
“I would hope that the city would reconsider their decision and remove both of these signs that appease only a few and inconvenience many,” wrote Meramec Theatre Manager Richard Moore.
Geyer Road is a road that not only the junior college students use and professors and so forth, but a lot of other people use it to get to Watson Rd. So there is a lot of traffic coming south as well and coming home from work, McDonnell said.
“I think probably in the next couple weeks, the city council will discuss what is happening and we’ll probably get a report from the police department about the numbers,” McDonnell said.
There are a lot of people living along there who do not like the stop signs. It is just a question of evaluating the safety of the children and the people who live on the street, McDonnel said.
The highway department and people from the railroad are looking into backups on the railroad tracks because of traffic.
Maybe lights are green and people are maybe on the tracks, but you know if the light changes then those cars are stuck there, McDonnell said.
Stopping on the railroad tracks is a ticketable offense, although it is uncommon to see cars on the tracks during a red light.
“We’ll just have to see about that, whether people have started to take a different way to get to their destination,” McDonnell said.
The analysis is scheduled to last 90 days, but may be finished sooner.
“It will be close to [90 days] by the time we’re finished,” Plummer said. “I don’t think it will be quite 90 days, but it will be close to that.”
If the study ends early, and the decision is to remove the signs, they may be taken down early, Plummer said.
“I’m not sure if we’ll come up with a popular decision, but we’ll come up with the right decision,” Plummer said.
One of the issues with signs — or anything else really with streets and governments and police departments — is that people, for the most part, they love something or they hate something, Plummer said.
“The most important thing from my end, is we owe the citizens the best answer we can get them,” Plummer said. “At the end of it, I want to be able to tell the mayor and the council and all, but I want to tell the citizens ‘I’ll give you the best answer we have.’ You may not like it, you may like it, but I know I’ll give you the best answer I can give you.”