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City council OKs raising streets' speed limits

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Greenwood has given initial approval to raising the speed limits on two busy streets, even after city council members expressed fears about safety.

The Greenwood City Council approved increasing the speed limit to 40 mph on Honey Creek Road on the west side and to 35 mph on Sheek Road on the east side. The council will consider final approval at its next meeting in two weeks.

Both roads currently have posted speed limits of 30 mph, but a study found that only 5 percent of drivers actually drove the speed limit and most greatly exceeded it. The mixture of slow and fast drivers is dangerous, and Greenwood wants to make the roads safer by shrinking the difference in speed between those who are following the speed limit and those who are going faster, community development services director Mark Richards said.

Council members expressed worries that higher speed limits would encourage even faster driving, since some drivers habitually exceed speed limits by 5 mph or 10 mph because they think that’s what they can get away with. They are also worried about drivers speeding near the Clark-Pleasant schools on Worthsville Road.

The city council approved the change 6-3. Council members Bruce Armstrong, Ron Bates, Mike Campbell, Brent Corey, J. David Hopper and Linda Gibson voted to give preliminary approval to the higher speed limits. Council members Ezra Hill, Thom Hord and Tim McLaughlin voted against it.

Greenwood plans to boost the speed limits on Sheek Road, between Worthsville Road and Grassy Creek Lane, and on Honey Creek Road, between Curry and Whiteland roads.

Hord said he saw no need to raise speed limits and feared that drivers would go even faster.

Hill was concerned about the safety of children in the area.

Five miles-per-hour faster can make a big difference in the time it takes to stop, McLaughlin said. He worried about students from nearby schools darting into the street.

Greenwood hopes to encourage the few drivers who do follow the speed limit to go faster, so they don’t get into accidents with speeders, Richards said.

“The people obeying the current law will travel a little faster, and it will narrow the gap between the highest and lowest speeds, and public safety will improve,” Richards said.

New signs would have to be installed, and the cost to taxpayers is expected to be less than $1,000, Hopper said.

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