Your View: Quaker and Seminary speed limit reductions will increase congestion, not improve safety

Your View: Quaker and Seminary speed limit reductions will increase congestion, not improve safety

By David Gage, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
Reducing the posted speed limit on Quaker Lane and Seminary Road will increase traffic congestion and cut-through traffic in neighboring residential areas and is inconsistent with Alexandria’s Complete Streets objective to “improve the efficiency and capacity of existing roads.” Consider these facts:

Quaker Lane and Seminary Road are not classified as residential streets — they are instead four-lane major arterial roads, specifically designed to accommodate and facilitate the transit of a large volume of vehicular traffic. As such, the current 35 mph speed limit is appropriate and reasonable.

Reducing the speed limits from 35 to 25 mph on these roads will not reduce the volume of traffic on Quaker and Seminary; it will just exacerbate traffic congestion in Alexandria, lengthen the traffic rush hour period and increase the volume of commuter traffic cutting through residential neighborhood streets.

According to city officials, one of the required prerequisites for changing a posted speed limit is that the lower speed limit be accepted as reasonable by a majority of road users. Yet, less than 50 percent of more than 500 respondents to the city-sponsored traffic survey supported the proposal for the speed limit reduction on Quaker and Seminary. The Seminary Hill Association presented a petition requesting the speed limit reduction signed by 267 residents, representing less than 200 of the over 2,000 households in Seminary Hill.

Ten percent of a neighborhood association membership and less than 50 percent public support hardly represents the “broad community support” for the speed limit reduction SHA claimed in its letter to the city. On the contrary, it appears that the majority of city residents and SHA members do not support or request the speed limit reduction. It is not in the public good to adversely impact thousands of Alexandria residents and commuters that use Quaker and Seminary daily to accommodate the wishes of a small minority of a single neighborhood association.

Additionally, research completed by the Federal Highway Administration on the effects of raising and lowering speed limits concluded that reducing posted speed limits does not decrease motorist speeds, and lowering speed limits more than 5 mph below the 85th percentile speed of traffic does not reduce accidents.

The posted speed limits don’t have to be reduced to decrease the average speed of traffic on Quaker Lane and Seminary Road. Consistent enforcement of current speed limits will effectively reduce the average vehicle speeds on these traffic arteries and also will support the improved safety benefits sought by the Seminary Hill Association.

The city should reconsider and rescind the decision to reduce speed limits on Quaker Lane and Seminary Road.