Davenport residents frustrated by lead-footed motorists who use neighborhood streets to get around congested traffic on Kimberly Road could soon see some relief.
Davenport aldermen met Tuesday to receive a brief update and discuss a proposal to slow speeding drivers on residential streets.
City Engineer Brian Schadt and Aldermen Ben Jobgen, Ward 6, and Kyle Gripp, at-large, discussed having the city install speed humps on 31st and 32nd streets between Eastern and Belle avenues as part of a pilot project to calm traffic and increase safety on neighborhood streets where traffic data shows a large percentage or consistent pattern of vehicles exceeding the speed limit.
Speed humps are areas of pavement raised three to four inches high and 12-14 feet wide, Schadt said. Often accompanied by pavement markings and signs to alert motorists, they're typically used to deter cut-through traffic on low-volume residential streets with a maximum posted speed limit of 30 mph, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
"Over the years, I think the No. 1 complaint that the ward aldermen get ... is neighborhood speed," Gripp said. "And we've never really had a willingness to address that from a city standpoint with the engineering piece of that. In my opinion, it's the most proactive way to address it, but it's also the most effective way. And it's also a quality of life issue for a council that's been committed to making neighborhoods safer and better.
"We've got traffic speed problems in neighborhoods, and we need an effective engineering solution."
The two aldermen said they chose the east Davenport neighborhood to pilot the traffic calming project after being approached by residents in the area in favor of the traffic calming measure.
"I think this is the perfect place to start, because you have nearly 100% consensus in that neighborhood that something needs to be done," Gripp said, adding money was budgeted last year for a traffic calming project in the city.
"Start small. See how effective it can be," Gripp said. "Does it reduce traffic speed? Does it make the neighborhood safer? Are we still able to effectively remove snow? And, if we can, then I think we have a good effective process for rolling this out in other wards where I know we have needs."
Schadt estimated about 2,000 vehicles a day travel on that span of 31st and 32nd streets, with a sizable number of drivers traveling in excess of 15 miles per hour over the 30 mph posted speed limit.
The speed humps force riders to reduce speed by inducing shocks and vibrations to the vehicle passing over it at higher speeds.
"It's a smooth transition so it's not jarring (like a speed bump), but provides an elevation different where it slows down speeding vehicles," Schadt said.
Other aldermen seemed largely supportive of the proposed project.
"Next budget be prepared to throw this in a lot of neighborhoods," Mayor Mike Matson told city staff. "We have this issue everywhere. If this works, let’s have at it then, as best as we can."
Alderwoman Marion Meginnis, Ward 3, however, said more clarity is needed on the criteria that would be used to assess which neighborhood streets would qualify for traffic calming measures.
"I’m a little surprised by this," Meginnis said. "I've asked again and again about what I call speed bumps. I don't know what the difference between a bump and a hump is. And I was told we were not allowed to put them on our streets."
She continued: "I'm not against this, but I want a checklist before I say 'yes' and vote for this ... that I can hand to people and explain this clearly."
Meginnis, too, worried the traffic calming measures would be reserved for Davenport's more affluent neighborhoods, and ignore traffic-safety needs in older parts of the city.
"I'm very concerned about equity here, but also clarity of message," Meginnis said, noting the "curve outs" on 46th Street between Eastern Avenue and Jersey Ridge Road "that we don’t see south of Locust (Street)."
Schadt said the traffic calming measures work best on long, wide streets that don't have much on-street parking. But, he added city engineering staff would develop a scoring system to evaluate each street based on traffic volume, tracking drivers' speed and whether it's near a school or bike path, among other factors.