North Raleigh News

August 27, 2014

North Raleigh speed humps under fire after city policy change

Plans to install speed humps are rattling drivers along a popular North Raleigh shortcut.

Plans to install speed humps are rattling drivers along a popular North Raleigh shortcut.

Town and Country Road sees up to 5,200 cars a day, making it the busiest city street to get humps in recent memory. The proposal comes after Raleigh quietly dropped rules last year that had limited the controversial asphalt strips to streets with fewer than 4,000 cars a day.

“As someone who lives nearby and drives this road at least twice each day, I find this very undesirable,” Alan Skipper wrote to city officials this month. “The speed limit was recently dropped, which should be an adequate measure to control speed on this road. The police do frequent speed checks on this road too.”

Skipper doesn’t live on Town and Country or the side streets it serves. But he’s among many who use the two-lane road to shave 0.2 miles off a trip to the Crabtree Valley Mall area and avoid the busy intersection of Millbrook and Lead Mine roads.

Residents along Town and Country say they’re tired of seeing drivers cut through and ignore the speed limit, which was recently dropped to 25 mph. About 89 percent of homeowners with property bordering the street signed a petition requesting speed humps.

The speed hump effort started in 2011 with an email from Ken Hart, who lives on a side street, to then-City Manager Russell Allen.

“Very few drive the speed limit and most people drive significantly faster,” he wrote. “I wonder at how few times I have seen any police cars running radar on this street, for they could certainly hand out speeding tickets all day long.”

The Town and Country speed humps wouldn’t have been possible under city policy a year ago. Before the rules changed, any roads with more than 4,000 cars a day would only qualify for what Raleigh terms “major traffic calming projects” – medians, traffic circles and curb extensions.

Tom Fiorello, who oversees the program, said that policy tied the hands of Town and Country residents. Their street has no curbs or gutters – a holdover from the days when North Raleigh was more country than town – and therefore couldn’t get other traffic calming devices.

The plan calls for four speeds humps, which cost about $3,000 each. Fiorello says the bumpy ride could persuade outsiders to take the main roads instead.

“There has been a reduction in volume on treated streets,” he said.

Drivers and neighbors have through September to send the city feedback on the proposal. Raleigh has about eight speed hump projects in the works this year, including Northbrook Drive, Alleghany Drive, Dandridge Drive and Johnsdale Road.

The Alleghany project recently prompted a complaint from former Raleigh City Councilman Marc Scruggs.

“The current policy of traffic calming encourages creep from one street to the next without solving the problem,” he wrote. “I do not want Country Club Hills or any neighborhood to be lined with calming devices, especially as it will hinder 911 response time.”

Fiorello’s staff currently has a list of more than 80 requests for speed humps, and he prioritizes them each year based on speed, traffic volume, pedestrian activity and crash data.

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