Eagle mom standing up for kids
Stephanie Samuelson is standing up for kids. Actually, she’s standing outside, twice a day.
Stephanie Samuelson is taking traffic into her own hands, urging motorists to slow down at a busy Eagle intersection twice a day when students walk to school. |Special to the Daily|
Since school began, Samuelson has twice daily hopped the fence between her townhome and the sidewalk along Brush Creek Road to stand with a sign at the three-way intersection of Capitol Street and Brush Creek Road, urging northbound motorists to slow down.
Since the Eagle County School District cut off bus service to kids who live within a mile of their schools, hundreds of kids now use the sidewalk in front of Samuelson’s townhome every morning and afternoon. The combination of kids and cars has Samuelson alarmed enough to seek the attention of anyone who will listen about the dangers of the mixture.
“I want stop signs, speed bumps, dips… whatever we can do to slow cars down here,” she said.
Samuelson and her family have lived in their townhome for about 10 years. Over that time, residents of those homes have seen the Terrace subdivision fully develop and traffic increase. The town’s new recreation facility opened this summer just south of the Terrace, and homes are being built at the Brush Creek Meadows subdivision, putting still more traffic on the road.
“All of Brush Creek Road used to be a farm road, and people still drive it that way,” said Samuelson.
Coming north into town, the speed limit on Brush Creek Road drops to 25 mph just south of the south entrance to the Terrace. Samuelson said that limit is widely ignored.
“I don’t have a problem with the people who are going 27 mph,” she said. “It’s the people who are going 40 mph who scare me.”
While Samuelson wants something done now, changes along the road may be some time in coming.
Assistant Town Engineer Tom Gosiorowski said a few changes are in the works for that stretch of Brush Creek Road, but all will take some time.
Next year, the sidewalk along Brush Creek Road will be widened to 10 feet from its current six-foot width. Gosiorowski said that project will accomplish a couple of things: a wider sidewalk will accommodate more people and will also provide a little more buffer space for motorists and pedestrians alike.
In the short term, town officials are planning a speed study for that stretch of road, to see just how fast traffic is really moving. The Eagle Police Department is also looking for a place to put its speed advisory trailer somewhere in the area to remind people about the 25 mph limit.
The next step is something of an open issue. Gosiorowski said engineering theory offers several arguments against more stop signs or other “traffic calming” methods. With stop signs, Gosiorowski said evidence indicates that traffic will quickly build back up to its previous speeds after a halt, increasing traffic noise.
In addition, a stop sign at a spot with no obvious cross-traffic can prompt people to glide through the signs, making an intersection more dangerous. And creating an area with double fines for speeding usually works only when officers can consistently enforce them.
Despite the evidence against more signs, lower speed limits and other possible solutions, Samuelson said she’s going to continue to stand on the sidewalk, urging motorists to take care.
That might actually help with what Gosiorowski said may be the ultimate solution: people adjusting to the new situation on the street.
“The average guy isn’t an idiot. Most people know what a safe and prudent speed is,” Gosiorowski said. “It takes a little time to adjust, but people do re-evaluate and adjust.”
In the meantime, he said, parents, kids and motorists all need to be aware there’s a lot more traffic along that stretch of road than there was just a few weeks ago.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.
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