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LA JOYA—The La Joya Board of Aldermen Tuesday discussed speed limit changes along Highway 83 within the city limits as well as a special election in May to change the city form of government to a home rule charter.

The city approved a special election scheduled for May 13, seeking voter approval to change the city government from general law to home rule, which gives the city greater powers, such as annexation authority without consent of the property owners affected.

The board of aldermen discussed with TxDOT representatives an ordinance that proposes to change speed limits; City Administrator Mike Alaniz said the city has continued to grow over the last 30 years, while the speed limits have not changed.

A representative from TxDOT, Epigmenio Gonzalez, explained they did a study of the area last year, that indicated the actual speeds that most people were traveling was higher than the posted speeds.

“Our recommendation is to increase the speed limit from 30 to 35 miles per hour in the area in front of the city hall, and decrease on the east side of the city from 55 to 45 miles per hour, where it will extend to the city limits.”

The proposed increase to 35 miles per hour would be seen on Expressway 83 between FM 2221 (Jara Chinas Rd.) to Diamond Street. From Diamond Street to the east side of the city limits, the speed limit would be lowered to 45 miles per hour.

TxDOT Director of Transportation Jesus Leal further explained that cities in the area, many that are neighbors to La Joya, have already begun the process of raising speeds.

La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas said, “I just don’t agree with increasing to 35 miles per hour, keeping the 30 would probably be best for the city. There are a lot of games, like basketball, football and soccer that are being played here. What is it that you are concerned about?”

Leal stated TxDOT had a concern of speed transitions between a higher and lower speed, the speed differential is what causes accidents. He added the 5 miles per hour difference might also be slightly beneficial with traffic jams.

Alderman Michael “Mike” Salinas said his issues with the speed limit involved children crossing in the early mornings and afternoons for school.

“We did do a study on pedestrian crossing, the majority of the crossing concentrated right at 2521 (Leo Avenue), and a bit beyond that point,” Leal said. “If we go to 35 miles per hour, we could implement an actual school zone for pedestrians. It would operate in the morning and the afternoon…and we could reduce the speed to 25 miles per hour during that time.”

The board was in favor of reducing the speed limit, but not raising it in the main La Joya business district. The ordinance was tabled so TxDOT can make amendments and return with new options for the city at the next regular meeting.

The board did approve an ordinance to establish a Downtown Beautification Commission for the city. Alaniz explained the approval allowed the Economic Development Corporation to begin the application process for grant funding.

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