Fed up with car crashes along a busy street, Miami Springs officials have said they felt it was time for drivers to slow down, or even stop.
“I directed that an additional two signs — creating a four-way stop — be installed later the same morning that the fifth accident in the last three years occurred at that intersection,” City Manager Ron Gorland wrote in an e-mail.
Gorland ordered the city’s public works department to post stop signs at Albatross Street and Plover Avenue, one of the few cut-through streets used by speeders darting to and from the nearby Miami Springs High School.
Many of the 2,000 students drive, and neighbors are on high alert at 7:20 a.m., when students who are running late race to school. Even worse, students seem to be in an even bigger rush to leave at 2:20 p.m.
“The new four-way stop will calm traffic on the Westward Drive to North Royal Poinciana stretch, where we’ve had an additional nine accidents in the last three years,” Gorland said.
One neighbor asked how the city could install a traffic sign so quickly without county approval.
“The newly erected stop signs on Albatross were not erected by the county,” said Rosie Buckner, an autism advocate who last year asked the city to install caution signs. The city did so, at her request, but had to remove them after neighbors complained.
Though the county code shows that it is unlawful for any municipality to install any traffic control devices, the city felt compelled to quickly do so.
“The safety and welfare of our residents should always come first,” Gorland said.
Buckner questioned the legality of issuing a traffic citation for not obeying a traffic device that was illegally placed.
“It may work as part of an effective defense strategy if you can get a statement via discovery from the local authority admitting that the sign shouldn’t be where it is and the court finds that it’s illegal,” wrote Alex Hanna, an attorney who specializes in traffic defense. “To prove that they are could prove to be a huge undertaking in time and expense.
“Keep in mind that driving is a privilege, and as a motorist you are obliged to obey all road laws as they exist, not to undertake a course of ignoring laws because you consider that they may be illegal or unconstitutional,” Hanna wrote.
Last week, another neighbor pointed to other area traffic issues a few blocks away.
“Plover is not the best intersection for a four-way stop,” Nestor Suarez, who unsuccessfully ran for Miami Springs council in the recent election, wrote in a detailed e-mail to city officials that included photos. “That distinction goes to Oriole and Albatross.”
Suarez added that this intersection has a design flaw.
“If you're heading west on Oriole and need to make a left turn to southbound Albatross, the dashed lines encourage an eastbound vehicle to collide with a westbound vehicle,” Suarez wrote. “Bottom line, if your goal is to slow down cut-through traffic on Albatross and prevent accidents, your best solution is to put a four-way on Oriole, not Plover.
“My recommendation is to move the four-way two blocks north to Oriole where it’s really needed.”
Meanwhile, the county is aware of the new stop signs.
“We are working with city of Miami Springs officials to conduct a traffic study to evaluate the traffic conditions at this intersection,” said a county spokesperson.
The county is expected to complete its evaluation by the end of the month.