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Meridian Road traffic study suggests safety changes

Two Leon County teenagers were killed on the road in March 2021
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 18:22:55-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There could be changes to Meridian Road, following a traffic study requested by Leon County Commissioners.

The traffic study suggests the county add Chevron markers and retroreflective pavement markers to Meridian Road between Gardner Road and Summerbrooke Drive.

Leon County Commissioner Brian Welch called for the study following the death of two Chiles High School students in March.

"I'm glad county staff went through those efforts because it's always tragic when you lose young people. If we can do anything to help that out, that's a good piece of public policy," said Commissioner Welch.

The traffic study compiled data from March 2018 to May 2021. The average daily traffic volume is 6,760 vehicles per day. It found that in that time frame, there were 16 accidents on that "S" shaped portion of Meridian Road that's 0.65 miles long.

Of those accidents:

  • Off-Road/Lane Departures: Eight crashes (50%)
  • Animal-Related: Four crashes (25%)
  • Other Contributing Factors (rear-end collisions and alcohol): Four crashes (25%)
  • Eleven crashes (69%) occurred in nighttime conditions.
  • Four crashes (25%) occurred with wet pavement as a contributing factor.

Jeff Phipps has lived near Meridian and Gardner for nearly 6 decades.

"Over 59 years that I've been riding this road. I've seen more accidents here than anywhere else," he said.

He says he's seen more speeding in recent years. The speed limit on any portion of Meridian road that is straight is 45 miles per hour. The speed limit drops down to 35 mph at the curves.

Traffic engineers did not suggest adding light poles, despite visibility being a contributing factor. They say it could be even more dangerous if a car goes off the road and hits one of the light posts. Phipps says he's willing o put up with the temporary traffic delays county workers will cause while installing the proposed fixes.

"I'm willing to make a few sacrifices to save some lives. What they're proposing sounds like a great idea," he said.

This isn't the first time the county has addressed a snake-like road. In 2018, Commissioners approved changes to Old Bainbridge Road near North Monroe.

The traffic study from 2008 to 2012 showed 68 crashes on that part of Old Bainbridge, with 41 instances of a car going off the road.

"Ultimately the most important thing is to slow down and be careful," said Commissioner Welch.