Thursday, May 8, 2014

Residents On NE Surber Drive Concerned That Speed Bumps Are Not Slowing Larger Vehicles Down, SDOT To Conduct Study

A resident on NE Surber Drive sent us email wondering how effective the speed cushions are, because he has seen cars, especially larger vehicles, such as SUVS, avoiding the speed cushions, thus still maintaining a high rate of speed.

The speed cushions, which are three inches high, were installed in  December of 2011 between NE 41st Street and 41st Avenue NE, due to numerous neighbors raising concerns about speeding cars over the last several years.

The City put in the speed cushions after more than 60 percent of affected neighbors signed a petition submitted in July of the same year.  The well-travelled corridor had been on SDOT’s priority funding list and SDOT wrote to the Laurelhurst Community Club last June that funds were finally available to "address the relatively high speeds." the Laurelhurst Community Club said. 

A resident wrote:
I have lived on Surber Drive for about four years.  I am shocked by the speed of many cars in this residential neighborhood. I helped gather signatures for installing the speed bumps thinking it would reduce speeds. Sadly, the change has been insignificant.
The width of the bumps allows cars with a wide wheel base (SUVs) to avoid contact.  Cars are still barreling around the corner into the construction zone and making it hazardous to back out of driveways.  The bumps have a shallow design and are not that intimidating to speeders.  Cars that do slow for the bumps have a long stretch to pick up speed after they clear them. 
I am sure the city engineers have reasons for this minimum design.  But for those seeking a solution to other speed problem areas in the neighborhood, realize that speed bumps, such as those installed on Surber, may not be a complete solution.

And another neighbor commented:
At the yield sign at Surber Drive and 42nd Avenue NE there used to be round bumps (I'm sure there is another name for them) and painted stripes to the right of the yield sign. Drivers going right onto 42nd Avenue NE cut to the right of the sign and sometimes even pass cars that are turning right from the correct side of the sign. Twice I have even witnessed drivers coming from Webster Point area and turning left onto Surber left of the sign on the left side of the road. Very scary!
Another resident commented:

I drove along Surber recently and had to pull to one side as a large, dark blue, SUV came ripping along the other way doing at least 30mph. The speed cushions had no effect on him at all. 
I think the SPD are the only ones to stop these folks. With all the construction vans and trucks either side of the road I was amazed the driver would even attempt 20 mph let alone 30mph.

The Laurelhurst Community Club told us that speeding along Surber continues to be a problem despite the speed cushions that were installed in 2011.   

LCC recently contacted the City after hearing from residents that certain vehicles are able to avoid any impact with the cushions due to a wide wheel base. Neighbors were also concerned about cars speeing around the curve in the road about at Belvoir when other cars are coming in the opposite direction. 

John Marek, SDOT Neighborhood Traffic Operations Supervisory wrote in response:
The speed cushions that were installed on Surber Drive NE were designed in accordance with federal guidelines outlined by the Institute for Traffic Engineers and the National Association of City Transportation Officials. 
These guidelines provide jurisdictions the ability to modify the design in accordance with street design and city policies, as we have done in Seattle. SDOT uses a design intended to maximize the traffic calming effects while minimizing the risk of property damage to vehicles and the impact to emergency service access to the neighborhood.  
While the installation of any traffic calming device on a roadway is intended to encourage slower traffic speeds, they are not able to make all motorists responsible drivers.   
SDOT will be conducting traffic studies on Surber Drive NE to help determine the effectiveness of the existing devices.  
Thank you also for sharing the information regarding Belvoir Place.  It is important to SDOT that we receive this type of information to continually provide our residents with excellent service.  
We ask that the neighborhood for this area participate in Seattle’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program to address these concerns on 42nd Avenue NE.  
Also, if neighbors are aware of vehicles that are travelling well above the posted speed limit, please contact SPD’s traffic unit at (206) 684-8757.  For questions or concerns, please contact our office directly at or (206) 684-0353.

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