Calming Kelly Street: Councilman says speed an issue along newly paved road

Savannah Vasquez
Recent city council discussions focused on speeding problems along Kelly Street. Of high concern is the safety of children using the new bicycle lane that runs along Kelly Street to Destin Elementary School.

Two months after the completion of phase two of the Kelly Street improvement project, that saw re-paving, as well as installation of new sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and storm water drainage systems, there seems to be a new problem with the road. 

“What I am seeing is, since we made a new leveled surface, drivers are now accelerating where you’ve got that straightway from Benning Drive to the curve,” said City Councilman Cyron Marler.

Marler, who lives on Kelly Street, recently brought his observation of speeding drivers to the attention of the city.

“We thought when we narrowed the lanes it would slow people down,” said Marler noting that instead, traffic speed seems to have increased.

 “It’s mostly late in the evening,” he said. “It’s always been 30 miles per hour there, but people are driving much faster."

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Michele Nicholson told The Log that since June 1, officers have made seven traffic stops along Kelly Street and only one of those was a speeding ticket.

However, given the newness of the smooth road, Marler proposed two ideas to the council to help slow down traffic in the residential area.

“I see two options,” said Marler. “You could lower the speed limit or you could put in speed humps.”

Speed bumps have worked in the past, as Marler said several years ago two were installed along Beach Drive to slow traffic near the boat ramp, but in the case of Kelly Street it does not seem to be the feasible answer.

“If somebody wants to put in speed humps on the road they live on, you have to get a petition and get 75 percent of the homeowners on that street to sign off on it,” said Marler. “Also, because Kelly Street is considered a feeder street for hurricanes, speed humps are not a viable option.”

So that leaves the speed limit.

“The only thing I could see us doing there now is to try to lower the speed limit to 25,” said Marler. “I would have to talk with the public works director then come before city council to get it approved.”

City Public Information Manager Doug Rainer confirmed that the city is indeed looking over Marler’s proposal, but he said the idea is still in the very early stages.

“It’s been put to us by this councilman to look at some methods to slow the traffic on Kelly Street,” said Rainer. “The project is in it’s infancy right now, so we are kind of at the top of the hill with it.”

At the end of the day, it's all about safety for Marler.

"When school starts there will be kids wanting to ride their bikes along the road in the new bike lane, and I’m getting worried about that," he said.