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by Thomas MacMillan | Sep 27, 2013 11:03 am
Posted to: Transportation, Westville
Deb Lovely asked the city for speed humps to stop cars from blasting down her street. She had no idea what she was signing up for.
Lovely, who lives on Lawncrest Road in Upper Westville, said she has been trying to slow traffic on her street for years. (Click here for a 2010 story about the neighborhood’s trouble with speeding.) Lawncrest is a popular cut-through between Whalley Avenue and Fountain Street.
Lovely, who’s lived on the street for 27 years, said people speed so badly that in just eight months, her neighbor had two cars totaled, struck by speeders while the cars were parked on the street.
In August, 2012, Lovely called on City Hall for relief. She submitted a “Complete Streets” application to have speed humps installed on Lawncrest. This August, it looked like she would finally get her wish, when the city began installing five humps.
The relief troops came five weeks ago, in the form of city contractor Laydon Industries. Workers milled down the road at five spots. The work was intended to be the first step in the installation of long-awaited speed humps on the residential street. But the project has stalled, leaving the neighborhood with a series of hard-edged rough patches, which haven’t solved the problem of speeding traffic, and have instead created a new problem.
Vehicles passing over the rough spots make a loud ka-thunking sound, and larger vehicles hit the milled rectangles so hard that nearby houses shake, according to neighbors. Click the play arrow to hear a sample.
The aborted project has not stopped cars from speeding. It has only made them louder. Lovely said school buses and delivery trucks are the worst, and send out rattling vibrations to surrounding houses.
“They just should have done this the right way,” Lovely (pictured) said. “We’ve had such a battle trying to get the humps, and now the battle continues.”
Lovely said she has called various city departments a half-dozen times looking for answers. Her across-the-street neighbor, Bruce Warner, said he has called about three times.
City traffic tsar Jim Travers said he regrets the delay. He said the speed hump project was delayed by a slight re-design, which called for painting the humps with a more durable coating than normal street paint. The contractor hasn’t had the new coating in stock, Travers said.
Lovely said she’s worried about what the vibrations are doing to pipes underground. Warner agreed.
Warner, who lives at the corner of Lawncrest Road and Green Hill Terrace, said he gets woken up at night by vehicles hitting the rough spot, shaking his house.
“I can feel the house shaking,” said Warner (at right in photo), who lives across the street from Lovely. It’s an old house, with pipes that could be shaken loose, he said.
“If they went this far, they should finish,” Warner said, pointing to the milled rectangle in the road in front of his house. “I pay my taxes. Just do this.”
“I’m sure the neighbors are frustrated,” said Travers, the city transportation chief. “And rightfully so.”
Travers said the city reviewed Lovely’s Complete Streets application, did a traffic study, found that humps were warranted, and “moved forward with the installation.”
Then, after the road was milled, the city decided to change the plan slightly. The initial idea had been to simply paint the speed humps with the chevron-shaped markings found on other humps in the city. Then the transportation department noticed that the paint doesn’t hold up well to consistent traffic.
“We changed to a thermal plastic chevron, which has a longer lifespan,” said Travers.
The only problem was that the contractor didn’t have the thermal plastic on hand, Travers said. City spokesperson Anna Mariotti said the proper coating is en route via FedEx. She said work should start back up within a week, and should take a week to complete.
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I think the residents should be prepared for even louder noise when the humps are installed. Many drivers will still not slow down, and will noisily race over the humps. The reason the old paint doesn’t last is because of all of the scraping from cars hitting the humps. I hope it works out. Good luck.
There are about 8 speed bumps (actually just holes in the ground) but only 1 sign. And bc the holes aren’t painted you can’t see them. At the very least the city should put up the other 7 signs so those of us willing to slow down know where the holes are. Poorly managed project. What the City really needs is Traffic Enforcement. Unfortunately the NHPD is AWOL, and not just in this area but all over New Haven. New Haven is a free-for-all. Any other City would be using the reckless driving as an opportunity to generate revenue.
agreeing with alexey, i’m surprised the NHI didn’t reference their own article (http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/speed_humps_calm_traffic_agitate_neighbors/ ) on the disruption speed humps can cause.
community policing for speeding and other traffic violations, that’s the answer. not humps and bumps that make it more difficult to plow streets in the winter.
I just don’t understand why the city paints speed humps with chevrons, which don’t really make the humps visible. Why not paint the humps front-to-back and side-to-side with bright yellow? That would make them impossible to miss.
Another thing to watch for when the humps are installed: Notice that the hump does not extend from curb to curb, to allow for drainage and prevent “ponding” between the humps. Drivers will swerve toward the curb to keep the passenger side tires low at street level, adjacent to the curb, and the driver side tires high on the hump. This allows the cars to maintain a higher speed without bottoming out and is somewhat disconcerting if you are parked on the street, cycling, or happen to be on the nearby sidewalk. The city could run pipes next to the curb and run the humps over them, but those pipes would clog with leaves and other debris, flooding the area between the humps, and leading to skating rinks during winter thaw/freeze cycles.
I like the idea of experimenting with different painting schemes, playing with designs and colors to discern the most effective pattern, and surveying other communities to find out what they have found to be most effective.
More traffic enforcement would be welcome, but it is very expensive to do well to the point it has the desired effect. Hence, the traffic calming movement. It, too, is imperfect, and a work in progress.
Narrowing the street with chicanes, temporary bumpouts, and/or mini circles is a far more typical approach than speed bumps. Seattle has installed over 2,000 of them recently.
There’s one in Upper Westville already, at the end of Fowler St. But it cost less than $100 to install - it is at least as effective as a hump but doesn’t generate revenue for city contractors.
That said, I hope these work out. People on Canner Street and on Edwards seem reasonably happy with their series of humps.
The Edwards hump is incredibly successful. The ” thwap” of tires is a necessary compromise for an overall much more pleasant and safe environment.that being said I agree with ANONYMOUS that a pilot program should be tried here, emulating Seattles pseudo traffic circle intersections.
posted by: Kevin on September 30, 2013 1:12pm
Chicanes, bump-outs, and mini-circles are useful traffic calming measures and there are situations where each is preferable to speed humps. But the idea that they can be installed for less than $100 is implausible. For example, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that the costs of a mini-circle “have ranged from about $50,000 for an installation consisting entirely of pavement markings and signage to $250,000 or more for mini-roundabouts that include raised islands and pedestrian improvements.” See
The (permanent) bump-outs at Whitney and Audobon (plus some ancillary improvements) will cost $320,000 according to the recent Independent story on this intersection.
The Edwards Street project (which included several traffic calming measures) cost $310,000 according to the Independent.
“It generally costs $15,000 to completely construct a traffic circle.”
In the case of the chicane/diverter that cost $100 - it is a small concrete block with a small street sign sticking out of it, surrounded by a yellow line. The cost to install a temporary like this is minimal. For a new bollard like it, a street sign and pole costs about $40, paint costs about $0.03 per foot, and a single bollard from a manufacturer is around $200 (a bulk order, or repurposed bollard from storage, is cheaper).
Using a large 500lb concrete planter as a bump out, as is done in much of Saint Louis, costs about $300-400 per planter. You might need two per intersection.
If the city will not respond to demands for safer streets, then neighbors should be able to go out and fix their streets themselves - certainly, they could easily afford to.
According to the South Central CT Regional Council of Governments traffic calming manual, a permanent bump-out costs $2,0000 to $20,000 and a chicane costs $10,000 to $30,000. See scrcog.org for the manual.
Again, I think all of these measures make sense in specific situations, but none of them are cheap. The cheaper measures, such as lane re-striping, have to be redone every few years.