BOYCE — Speeding drivers, beware.
Boyce Town Council on Tuesday adopted an ordinance making Whiting Avenue a one-way street, with traffic traveling from Old Chapel Road south to the East Main Street intersection. The ordinance also allows speed bumps and other traffic-calming devices to be installed along the avenue.
In addition, the council approved levying a $200 fine for speeding along Greenway Avenue (U.S. 340). The speed limit is 35 mph. The fine will be alongside any other penalty imposed by the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) or the Virginia State Police (VSP), which are responsible for enforcing traffic laws in Boyce. The town of approximately 600 residents doesn't have a police department.
Both measures were approved in unanimous votes following public hearings. About 20 people — other than local officials — attended the meeting, and many of them spoke. Some were in favor of one or both measures, while others weren't. Some said they don't care what the town does, as long as its streets become safer.
Council members Floyd Hudson and Whitney Maddox said the town has received numerous complaints about speeding on Whiting and Greenway.
"We've heard complaints for a long, long time, multiple complaints," said town Recorder Ruth Hayes.
"Children often are seen playing in yards and even in the street," Hudson said, referring to Whiting. Because there are no sidewalks, pedestrians have no choice but to walk in the avenue, he said, mentioning the town doesn't have enough right of way to install any footpaths.
Whiting is "very narrow in comparison to other streets," he continued. "It's impossible to pass" an approaching vehicle without stopping or veering over into someone's yard.
Most of the public comments were about Whiting.
"This is a good-ole-boy town," said Alice Rodway, who has lived on Whiting for about 40 years. People always wave at each other and pull over their vehicles to let others pass, she said.
But "the town cannot recommend you go onto other people's property," said Councilman Dennis Hall.
Along with encouraging people to ease up on their gas pedals, Maddox said the Greenway fine should generate some extra revenue for Boyce. The town's annual budget is only about $142,000.
"None of these measures will increase response times" for emergency vehicles, said Carol Coffelt, speaking on behalf of her husband, Boyce Volunteer Fire Company Chief Lee Coffelt. He was working and couldn't attend the hearings, she said.
Debbie Albritton, who has lived on Whiting for 26 years, denied that the avenue has a speeding problem. Only one family along the avenue favors making it one-way, she said.
Another avenue resident, David Ferreira, said he has observed vehicles speeding on Whiting. He estimated that some were traveling at more than 30 mph.
"The town and I have put out 'slow, children' signs," but they don't seem to have worked, Ferreira said.
Speeding along the avenue is "a very serious, and possibly deadly" problem, he said.
Patrick Knight, representing the Boyce Crossing Homeowners Association, said residents of the nearby subdivision aren't opposed to speed bumps being installed. But making Whiting one-way wouldn't solve the speeding problem, he said, adding it would just redirect traffic.
Several speakers said speed bumps could make it hard for snow plows to travel along Whiting. Ferreira said bumps shouldn't be high enough to hurt most vehicles.
"I'll support any decision that makes the town safe," said Viktoriya Startseva, a Ukraine native who has lived in Boyce for about five years. But "this (speeding) mess needs to stop," she said.
"Our No. 1 priority is safety," Hall said before making the motion to restrict the avenue's traffic flow. Ultimately, the council must take into account concerns of all Boyce residents — not just those along the avenue — in reaching decisions, he said.
The council hasn't yet set a date when Whiting will become one-way.
Hudson said the town will seek a professional engineer's advice on how many speed bumps should be installed along Whiting and where. He said, though, he doesn't envision it will be many.
To appease residents concerned about too many changes being made to Whiting too quickly, council members said they will make the avenue one-way and see whether that reduces speeding before installing bumps. If it doesn't, though, the bumps and other traffic-calming measures may be installed.
Making the avenue one-way is "an attempt to slow things down," said Hayes. "We'll see how it works" first.
"What we've done tonight isn't chiseled in stone," Hudson added. "If it doesn't work, we'll try something else."