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Speed Bumps Installed On West 3rd Street Despite Ruling

speed bump

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WFIU-WTIU News

Four speed bumps have been installed on West 3rd Street.

Four speed bumps have been installed on West 3rd Street in Bloomington this week.

The Bloomington City Council voted to approve installation of the speed bumps in April, but the Bloomington Board of Public Works unanimously rejected the proposal two weeks later. A previous two-year study from the city’s engineering department on the effects of the traffic calming devices on West 3rd Street found speed did not significantly decrease. The department had therefore recommended the devices were not necessary.

City Council Member Chris Sturbaum says since then, the city council attorney has been conducting research into possible litigation. He says there’s a problem when The Board of Public Works can veto something the city council has already approved.

“There were two possibilities one was to involve the circuit court who is kind of like a referee when executive and legislative branches disagree,” he says. “The more complicated one would have been to give a clarifying directive to the Board of Public Works from the council.”

Sturbaum says after a meeting with Mayor Mark Kruzan last week, the mayor gave the go ahead to install the traffic calming devices.

Kruzan says litigation could stem from any attorney who might challenge the process by which the speed bumps were or were not installed.  But he says he wanted to avoid entering into a suit between branches of city government because of the high cost of such a suit.

“The city council suing the administration, obviously you end up with tax payers footing the bill on both sides of that, and we were facing thousands of dollars of attorney’s fees versus $800 worth of materials for this,” he says.

Bloomington Engineering Department Director Susie Johnson confirmed the cost of the installation and says it helped keep the city out of what could have been a more divisive situation.

“For $800 in asphalt we were able to put in these temporary speed cushions, avoid litigation and give us an opportunity to maybe more comprehensively look at traffic calming in that neighborhood,” she says.

Kruzan says the speed cushions will remain on the street until the city can look more comprehensively at the Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program–the city-wide program for increasing safety on neighborhood streets.

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