September 15, 2014: Oh, but it took a while to get there, what with circular discussions and painful regurgitation of what we all just heard and clearly understood. Personal styles of the commissioners aside, it was decided to undo the blockage on 100th Avenue at 53rd Street and restore the ability to make a left turn out of 53rd onto 100th, or from northbound 100th onto 53rd – the way is has been for over 20 years.
There are legitimate concerns by folks who live along 53rd Street that too many people use it as a through street from 106th to 100th Avenues, with many of them speeding while they do so. With the left turn blocked off, this concern was mitigated, but the traffic has had to shift up to 51st Street or down to the Sterling Springs entrance, forcing residents to wander through other streets to get to and from their homes, and simply transferring a problem from one street to another. There are no stop signs on 53rd Street so it has been the preferred route compared to 51st with its two stop signs, for traversing from 106th to 100th. It is suspected that many of the drivers using the shortcut to 100th Avenue do not live in the neighborhood, making it even more frustrating for locals.
In reversing the current left turn blockage, the commission further agreed to request a study from Broward County after 30 days, to examine the traffic count on 53rd Street in order to support the installation of stop signs that would alleviate some of the “throughway” issue. It was noted that stop signs are not used for speed control, only volume control, but it was further noted that 51st Street has and has had for many years, two stop signs on virtually the same type of road. We’ll see what the study shows but for now, get ready to make your left turns once again. With the traffic flying on 100th, be extra watchful.
UPDATE: Skip brings up an interesting point about who has authority over traffic devices, and while at the commission meeting, I accepted at face value the comment that the county has final say-so over the placement of stop signs, and the city can only suggest or request placement. The state statues say something else in:
316.006 Jurisdiction.—Jurisdiction to control traffic is vested as follows:
(a) Chartered municipalities shall have original jurisdiction over all streets and highways located within their boundaries, except state roads, and may place and maintain such traffic control devices which conform to the manual and specifications of the Department of Transportation upon all streets and highways under their original jurisdiction as they shall deem necessary to indicate and to carry out the provisions of this chapter or to regulate, warn, or guide traffic.
So, is the prevailing municipality for Cooper City actually Broward County? Doesn’t sound right. So, if you look further, you find in
(4) (a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, a municipality may, by interlocal agreement with a county, agree to transfer traffic regulatory authority over areas within the municipality to the county.
So, apparently that is the case with Cooper City/Broward County. At some point Cooper City must have given such authority to Broward County, making the simple task of seeing and resolving (with stop signs) a traffic flow problem (the unimpeded throughway on 53rd Street) a much more complicated one, by having to bow to the authority of the county in this matter.
Now, the Cooper City Ordinances regarding traffic (Chapter 17, link below) does not mention any such agreement but does provide for the installation of traffic calming devices (such as speed humps, round-a-bouts) without specifically excluding stop signs, which could be reasonably interpreted as a traffic calming device.
After more searching, I could not find any reference to an interlocal agreement between Cooper City and Broward County transferring traffic regulatory authority to the county. It may exist, and I’ve emailed City Hall to see if they can provide a reference. Link to Chapter 17.
Now, in their paper, Traffic Calming Do’s and Don’ts (Richard Drdul, P.Eng. and Mike Skene, A.Sc.T, Institue of Transportation Engineers technical papers 1994) they suggest that stop signs are NOT effective as traffic calming devices: While 4-way (or in this case, 3-way) stops are the #1 requested traffic calming device, they are rarely satisfactory or effective for the purpose. Stop signs are intended to assign priority at an intersection, not to slow or divert traffic. Drdul and Skene claim that mid-block speeds can actually increase, that rolling stops or “no” stops actually result, and police compliance is expensive. Something to consider in the case of 53rd Street.
Here is another very interesting article on the subject, that also argues against traffic control devices (stop signs and lights) for traffic calming purposes.
Here is the response from Mr. Bowman at Cooper City on traffic authority: “In December 1981, the City and County entered into a Traffic Engineering Agreement, where by the County would perform traffic engineering functions for the City. In 1993, the City passed and adopted Resolution 93-7-1 in which the City transferred to the County the functions, authority, powers, responsibilities and duties pertaining to the planning, installation, operation and maintenance of traffic control devices. This same agreement was extended to all municipalities in an effort to have a centralized agency responsible for the installation and maintenance of traffic control devices throughout the County. All traffic control signals and signage are covered by this agreement.” There you have it.