Bloomington City Council Approves 3rd Street Speed Bumps

Bloomington’s City Council voted last night in favor of installing speed cushions to slow traffic along West 3rd street in the Prospect Hill Neighborhood.

A Bloomington City Council debate over traffic calming devices came to an end last night after the council voted 5 to 4 in favor of installing speed cushions along a section of West 3rd street in Prospect Hill.  After studying the effects of speed cushions along that street, the city’s engineering department recommended the devices were not necessary.

But neighborhood resident Scott Kellogg says that study did not take into account a number of factors.

“The street is narrower, has an incredibly high volume of traffic, and the houses are right on the street,” he says.

Council Member Darryl Neher voted against the installation of the devices. He says many residents in his district were against the speed cushions because other areas of the city need similar resources. He says West 3rd already has an appropriate amount of traffic calming devices.

“In this case you already have bump outs, chicanes that are slowing traffic, and now you’d be adding the cushions,” he says.

Bloomington’s engineering department plans to conduct another study after they are installed to determine their effectiveness.

According to the guidelines of the Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program the Board of Public Works must approve the plan before construction can begin.

  • Anonymous

    This is insane. I’m a huge advocate for traffic calming measures and initiatives that improve the city’s walkability or bikeability. I’ve attended city council meetings in support of traffic calming. But W 3rd is already *loaded* with traffic calming devices completely absent from other areas of the city with much, much greater need for these resources. Traffic does not move at all quickly along the street, nor is traffic volume very high. Already, the degree of calming on W 3rd pushes traffic onto other streets/neighborhoods, and too much calming leads to a street that isn’t even handling its fair share of traffic. I hate to say it, but this reeks of entitlement.

    Why doesn’t the council listen to the city’s engineers? Of course everybody wants more calming on their street, but the engineers have a better informed and more objective perspective.

  • Paula Worley

    Actually if you had attended any of the counsel meetings in the last few weeks you would have learned that the traffic on this street is indeed higher than average with 1000 to 1200 cars per day. This is a street designated as a residential street not a main arterial road. While the other traffic calming installed has helped, we still have 15% of the drivers going above the speed limit on that street. This is a little bit over one in seven vehicles speeding, about 171 per day average. The road is narrow and with no tree plot buffer. Some of the residence have felt unsafe getting their groceries or kids out of their car when speed past them. I have witnessed many people not stopping at the stop sign on the corner of Maple and Third and speeding up as they attempt to pass through the neighborhood to the west of town. The speed bumps that were installed to test them before the vote last night for permanent instalment showed a significant decrease in the number of speeders. This has been a lengthy process of years for the neighborhood. I encourage anyone who has a safety traffic issue in your neighborhood to contact the proper city government departments and advocate for your neighborhood. Most likely, unless there are changes made to the process, you will have to follow the same lenghty proceedure that we had to follow, which will take years. I support all neighborhoods trying to make their neighborhood safe for pedestrians, and bicyclists.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure I buy it. How does 1 in 7 cars over the speed limit compare to other neighborhoods? How much over the speed limit? Can’t just about any neighborhood come up with a set of statistics pointing to poor driving? That doesn’t determine which neighborhoods most need the limited available resources.

    We all have our horror stories about unsafe drivers, but should W 3rd get even more traffic calming just because they stuck it out through an admittedly long process? I’m inclined to trust the traffic engineers, and I wonder why the council doesn’t listen to the people we pay to provide expert and impartial recommendations.

  • Jean

    Then at least understand that the neighborhood never wanted the “chicanes” – engineering made us take them (or nothing) several years ago instead of the $200 worth of speed bumps we wanted then – which is what we finally got. This could have been over and done with 3 years ago for $200. 
    As for “That doesn’t determine which neighborhoods most need the limited available resources.” We know that other neighborhoods have traffic problems. WHERE ARE THEY? Every neighborhood has exactly the same rights as Prospect Hill to ask City Council for a reasonable safety measure. SO WHERE ARE THEY? It took enormous grit for 3 years to get through all the hoops we had to jump through. 
    And yes, we are entitled – just like you – to have the reasonable expectation that we can be reasonably safe in our neighborhood. If this IS true of you “I’m a huge advocate for traffic calming measures and initiatives that improve the city’s walkability or bikeability.” then one full, normal day on the street in question and you would support us, not resentfully criticize. 

  • Greg A

    Now, I don’t have any particular faith in the judgment of our engineering staff (they think their job is to optimize car-trips, not to optimize people-trips or quality of life or even commerce) but I would not question their basic competence as engineers.

    They were asked at this meeting specifically the question that Gerta proposes, how does this segment of 3rd street compare to other roads around the city?  Now, they didn’t happen to have a heap of statistics handy, but they said that by their measures, this segment of 3rd street is much calmer than most streets that they have had to look at.  From personal experience, I can support this — I’ve done a lot of biking around rush hour and pretty much every single street in the city develops a problem with impatient buttholes speeding through.

    The engineers specifically cited that this stretch of W 3rd has a very good accident rate (few accidents, and low severity when they happen), while other streets have chronic (and fatal) accident problems.  Rightfully, those streets are where the engineers would prefer to focus their energies.

    Basically, the underlying current within the council is Sturbaum’s history when other groups have come forward asking for streets which are more amenable to pedestrians and cyclists.  But for the street his parents live on, he favors calming to the point of absurdity (and beyond!).  That said, I think this process was educational for all involved.  This is the process by which sea changes develop.

    This process is the road, not a bump in the road.

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