City Council OKs traffic calming process
July 3, 2012
By Christina Lords
The Newcastle Public Works Department now has a new step-by-step process to uniformly address resident concerns when it comes to cars speeding down neighborhood streets or blowing past stop signs.
The Newcastle City Council adopted a “traffic-calming” resolution at its June 19 meeting outlining seven steps the department can take when faced with requests for improvements like speed humps, signage, sidewalks and other options.
In the resolution, residents can begin the process by completing a request for action form, which will be reviewed by the department.
Public Works Director Mark Rigos said that while many residents request large-scale changes like speed humps, other traffic-calming options might be more appropriate and cost effective.
“It’s important to know that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ to address traffic calming,” Rigos said.
The City Council has been faced in the past few weeks with several residents asking for speed humps in Newcastle neighborhoods, and Rigos said it isn’t uncommon for residents to contact his department about perceived issues, either.
By having a resolution in place, residents have a specified place to start their inquiries and city staff has a designated approach to dealing with requests for action, Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen said.
The resolution also offers some flexibility to handle unique situations and varying road and neighborhood conditions, Rigos said. Not all steps need to be taken if they’re not applicable to a neighborhood, street or situation.
After a site investigation takes place (if deemed necessary) by staff, the city’s public works director will implement a response based on one or more of nine possible solutions.
The solutions are taking no action, limb or tree removal, neighborhood education via a community meeting or letter, additional police presence, speed studies, street sign installation or revisions, painting street markings, hiring a traffic engineer specialist or constructing physical improvements.
Councilwoman Carol Simpson encouraged residents talking to fellow residents to curb traffic issues in neighborhoods.
“I especially like the idea of meeting with the neighbors and working together so we all slow down,” she said. “We’re all guilty of going too fast through the neighborhoods.”
Physical improvements could mean sidewalks, speed humps, bike lanes, ADA ramps or traffic chicanes.
The resolution states large projects more than $3,000 would be considered on a project-by-project basis, depend on budgetary factors, and require approval of the city manager.
“Cost is a big factor, especially when we’re looking at putting sidewalks in neighborhoods where the topography is steep on one side and steep on the other side,” Rigos said. “It’s going to cost a lot more to do traffic calming and sidewalks in that neighborhood … so that’s something we have to consider at the Public Works Department for each potential project.”
On the Web
A request for action form is available online at the city’s website at www.ci.newcastle.wa.us/rfa_form.htm.