Speeding through neighborhoods is the No. 1 complaint Akron City Council members get from residents.
Akron council members are considering steps to curb this problem, including speed humps. Yes, they are talking about speed humps, and not the smaller bumps that people are used to driving over in private parking lots.
“Speed humps are not speed bumps,” said Akron Councilman Mike Freeman, who has been championing speed humps for many years. “Bumps and humps are two different things.”
Speed humps were among several topics council members discussed during a rare, 2›-hour caucus Tuesday afternoon.
Freeman, who has been amassing research on speed humps for several years, was pleased to finally get an audience on the topic. He shared his findings with council.
Other cities in Ohio, including Toledo and Sandusky, and elsewhere in the country have adopted speed humps, with some dating back many years. Sandusky defines a speed hump as “a raised area in the roadway pavement extending transversely” across the road that is 3 to 4 inches tall and about 12 feet wide, according to a Sandusky document.
A bump, by comparison, is 3 to 6 inches tall and 1 to 3 feet wide. A variation to the speed hump is the tabletop type, also called a speed table, which has similar dimensions, along with a 10-foot-long flat surface on the top of the hump, according to the Sandusky document.
In Akron, Freeman thinks speed humps would work well on residential streets with a speed limit of 25 mph. He said other cities have a petition process, similar to the method Akron uses for residents to indicate they want new sidewalks. He said residents could be assessed for all or part of the cost or other funds could be used, such as the money generated from speed cameras placed in school zones in the city. He estimated the cost of a hump at $1,000 to $5,000.
“I think we’re missing out on a good opportunity,” he said.
At least one Akron resident favors speed humps. In response to a Facebook question on the topic, Mike Altvater said he’d love to see speed humps added to North Rose Boulevard in West Akron between North Portage Path and West Market Street to slow cut-through traffic.
“Cars routinely drive in the 40s despite the fact that there are children in the neighborhood,” he said.
Several council members, including Mike Williams and Russel Neal Jr., indicated support for the use of speed humps. Neal said a pilot project could be tried on streets near schools or parks that aren’t on major thoroughfares.
Not all of the information on speed humps is positive though, with residents in some areas objecting to noise issues, parking problems, damage to vehicles and a hindrance to emergency vehicles. Some question whether they accomplish their purpose.
Dave Gasper, Akron’s traffic engineer, told council members that motorists may avoid a road with a speed hump and instead take an alternate route, thus increasing traffic on the non-speed-hump street. On streets without curbs, he said motorists might drive into yards or tree lawns to avoid the humps.
Gasper said Toledo has more than 600 speed humps that have been found to decrease speeds by 5 to 10 mph. He said the threshold most commonly used is 1,500 vehicles per day to warrant a hump.
Public Service Director John Moore said he will talk to Toledo officials to find out how the speed humps have worked there and will report back to council.
On a related topic, Akron police Lt. Richard DeCatur updated council members on the purchase of 18 machines that will be used to gauge speed on residential streets. Council members pushed to dedicate about $128,000 in this year’s budget to buy the Speed Maintenance Automated Radar Trailer (SMART) machines.
The machines, most that will tell motorists how fast they are driving, will provide police with data, such as the high, low and average speed on the street and the period of time in which speeding is the worst, that can then be used to target enforcement by officers. Tickets won’t be written based on the machines. DeCatur said some of the machines should be delivered by next month.
In other business, council members discussed:
•Fire department promotions: Personnel Director Patty Ambrose Rubright gave an update on an ongoing lawsuit regarding fire department promotions stemming from a promotional test the city gave in December 2004.
Councilman Bob Hoch urged a resolution to the federal suit so that a promotional test can be given to address a depleted rank structure in the department that could pose a safety hazard. He said the longer the case continues, the higher the expense.
“I’m asking for it to stop,” he said.
Rubright said attempts to settle the case have been unsuccessful.
•Welcome packets: Council members discussed giving welcome packets to residents who move into Akron and possibly creating a mobile app for the city that would provide information on services and resources.
Bob Zajac, who does public relations for council, put together an estimate last year that the packets would cost about $15,000. He said the cost may have increased since then.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmith and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith. Read the Beacon Journal’s political blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/ohio-politics.