ST. PETE BEACH — It’s official, many neighborhood streets will now have an officially posted 20 mph speed limit, down from a 25 mph maximum that few drivers adhered to.

During their Oct. 26 meeting, commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance on second and final reading lowering the speed limit on certain neighborhood streets. The move is a result of complaints from residents about motorists speeding through narrow, winding streets as pedestrians strolled, bicycled or walked dogs and children played nearby. The problem is heightened by the fact that some children have to walk to school along roadways with no sidewalks.

The reason commissioners chose to reduce the speed to 20 mph is that Florida statutes do not allow anything lower.

The original city ordinance still establishes a 25 mph speed limit on all local streets unless otherwise provided by another ordinance, such as the one adopted Oct. 26. The speed limit for all city streets in commercial areas is set at 30 mph.

After the first reading of the new ordinance, Community Development Director Michelle Gonzalez noted staff was directed to work with each city commissioner to determine if the speed on additional streets should be reduced from 25 to 20 mph.

As a result of that earlier staff presentation to the commission, she advised, Boca Ciega Isle neighborhood streets were added to the ordinance. Based on feedback from City Commissioners, an additional 44 streets were recommended for a speed limit reduction in the final reading of ordinance.

The ordinance states the city determined that reducing the speed limit to 20 mph is necessary to protect its residents “due to issues related to: on-street parking, an increase in vehicular traffic, pedestrian and cyclist safety, and the lack of sidewalks within the area.”

Due to the lack of sidewalks in many neighborhoods, pedestrians, school children and bicyclists compete for roadway space with speeding vehicles.

City seeks grant for Corey streetscape

City Manager Alex Rey asked commissioners to adopt a resolution allowing the city to apply for a $70,000 Forward Pinellas grant for a Corey Avenue streetscape, with the city agreeing to contribute a $30,000 match.

“It’s a good way to get extra money for a good cause,” Rey noted.

“We are doing a complete streets concept for the entire Corey corridor from the east to the west,” the city manager said. “We are going to be looking to incorporate sidewalks and landscaping, and everything else, through the entirety of the corridor; and find a way to unify the look of the corridor, as the two east and west pieces are being developed.”

Mayor Al Johnson noted he sits on a Forward Pinellas committee. “I get tired of seeing some of the other cities coming in there and getting $100,000 a pop to do stuff like this. It can be used for construction, as well as engineering and design concepts,” he said.

“We ought to start hammering on people like (Forward Pinellas Executive Director) Whit Blanton and get them to give us a little money for a change,” Johnson quipped.

City commissioners voted unanimously to apply for the grant.