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Traffic calming process, prices, discussed in committee

Feb. 12, 2014

Residents seeking a new speed control in their neighborhood may face a new request process under a plan considered this week by the Traffic and Safety Committee.

The plan, modeled on Milwaukee's, may require residents who request a new traffic-calming measure — from changed speed limits to speed tables — to do more legwork.

In Milwaukee, a resident begins by filling out a "request for neighborhood traffic management" form that describes where and why traffic calming is being requested.

The resident is then asked to circulate a petition to affected households. Presently, staff and aldermen do most of this surveying.

A price list

The Milwaukee petition form has, at the top, a list of prices for various strategies: speed humps cost $3 a frontage foot, bump outs are priced at $4 a frontage foot and traffic circles cost $6 a frontage foot, assessed to affected property owners.

Committee members discussed a requirement that signatures from 50 percent of the affected property owners would be required for a request to merit committee consideration, though no firm decision was made.

How much to charge

Another matter that arose was how much of the cost of implementation should be borne by residents. In Milwaukee, the figure is 90 percent. Alderman Jeff Roznowski said he was in favor of charging residents the full cost of implementation, to make residents think hard about whether the change is necessary.

Public Works Director William Porter said that with a defined methodology, he fears a "rush" of requests, and said he would like committee assistance in prioritizing requests as they come in.

Limited resources

Alderman Dennis McBride said the city should explain upfront that resources are limited, and that, barring special circumstances, requests would be handled in the order received.

The city was founded in 1835, McBride said.

"We've waited this long to have a traffic-calming policy — people can wait a little longer."

He also spoke in favor of not specifying a time frame for implementation of new features.

Porter said costs come into play mostly in the implementation of speed humps.

The committee made no decisions, and will continue its consideration of the issue at its next meeting.

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