In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved a change of date for the Monday, July 22, Commission meeting. Commissioners Don Davis and Jennifer Schartz are attending the National Association of Counties Annual Meeting July 19-22 in Texas. Given their absence, it was suggested that the Commission consider moving the July 22 meetings to Wednesday, July 24. The agenda meeting would begin at 9 a.m. as usual with regularly scheduled study sessions following.
• Heard an update on the activities of county departments from County Administrator Richard Boeckman.
Second Street from McKinley to Truman is technically a county road with the residents residing in the subdivision north of it living outside the Great Bend City Limits. However, south of the dirt thoroughfare is the new city-owned Sports Complex which draws a lot of traffic to the area.
As a county road, as long as there is no posted speed limit, motorists could technically drive 55 miles per hour. There is no posting now.
However, that changed Monday morning when the Barton County Commission voted to set the speed limit on the stretch at 30 mph. Parking along the north side of the street will also be banned and a sign noting that the actual entrance to the sports facility is further south will be installed.
Barton County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rick Popp said his department conducted a speed survey during the first weekend of June and observed 108 vehicles in an eight-hour period on this part of Second at various times of the day between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The average speed was determined to be 20 mph while the slowest speed recorded was 10 mph and the fastest was 36 mph.
A common formula that was used to determine a reasonable speed limit is the 85th percentile speed formula, Popp said. This formula uses the statistics that 70 percent of the drivers maintain an average speed plus or minus five miles per hour, 15 percent of the driving population drive unreasonably slow while another 15 percent drive unreasonably fast. By calculating the unreasonably slow and the average speed one gets the 85 percent speed, leaving out the unreasonably fast.
In this study, the 85th percentile speed is 30.6 mph and is the recommended speed of 30 brought to the commission.
Popp said it was also observed that parking was an issue, with vehicles parking along both the north and south sides of the street.
As for the speed, Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said it didn’t make sense to post the paved, four-lane 24th Street at 35 mph and a “washboardy” dirt road only slightly slower. Besides, the faster cars kick up more dust that creates problems for residents and for those playing ball.
But, Sheriff Brian Bellendir said municipal speed limits were standardized in the 1950s to make speeds consistent from one jurisdiction to another. These standards call for residential area speeds of 30 mph and commercial area speeds of 20 mph.
Except in rare occurrences, this holds true in Great Bend, the sheriff said. To alter this could lead to confusion amongst drivers.
And, since over half of the traffic counted during the survey was from local residents, “locals will be getting tickets” at the slower limit, he said.
“I would like to see 20,” said Gary Hertel, who lives in the neighborhood. He said he drives that speed and if others don’t, give them a ticket.
His main concern was for the many young children in the area who sometimes dart into the street.
Bellendir said this is not a unique situation. Other subdivisions in the county have speed limits of 30 mph.
Other options included having the city close the west complex gate on Second or restricting traffic there to local residents only. Neither, he said, are good solutions and could create more problems.
In the end, a motion from Commissioner Jennifer Schartz calling for 30 mph passed unanimously, despite Schremmer’s earlier objections.