Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Lake Forest speed-limit changes approved
Limits raised on 4 road segments, lowered on 21.

The Orange County Register

LAKE FOREST The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously adopted an ordinance regulating speed limits citywide, which increases the posted speed limit on four street segments while lowering it in 21 sections.

The council re-examined the issue after approving the ordinance at the March 21 meeting.

Questions were raised about the need to increase speed limits and whether measures were enforceable.

A traffic study must be updated every five years to ensure speed limits are compliant with the California Vehicle Code.

The four street segments that will have limits increased by 5 mph are Alton Parkway from Portola Parkway to Paloma; Rockfield Boulevard from the northern city limits to Lake Forest Drive; Rockfield from Cavanaugh Road to Silverbay Drive; and Toledo Way from Bake Parkway to Lake Forest Drive.

According to an engineering and traffic study, consultants surveyed 103 street segments. They based their findings on accident history, radar measuring speed and driving conditions that could affect speeds, such as the presence of parks, crosswalks, schools or driveways.

Scott Bacsikin, a traffic engineer with Willdan Associates, explained that most of the findings were based on the 85th percentile, the speed at or below 85 percent of which traffic was moving. The numbers were then rounded to the nearest 5 mph speed increment.

State law requires a traffic survey to enforce the posted speed limits with a radar or lidar, an electronic speed-measuring device often used by deputies. Otherwise, the segment could be considered a speed trap.

According to the survey, on the Toledo segment, posted at 45 mph, the street had no accidents from November 2002 to November 2005. The measured speed based on 85 percent of the traffic was 50 mph.

Bacsikin said that because there were no other factors to justify lowering the speed, the speed limit was raised to 50 mph.

Lake Forest resident Sonny Morper opposed the speed increase, saying people who use Toledo would have only seconds to enter or cross the street.

"The 5 mph increase in speed offers a negligible decrease in the amount of time to get from Bake to Lake Forest," he said. "However, it exponentially increases the potential for accidents for association members turning onto or across Toledo."

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