In an unusual twist, some SLC residents oppose the plan to use speed bumps to slow traffic

The latest neighborhood fight brewing on the east side of Salt Lake City has nothing to do with the usual sources of dismay.

It’s not the high residential density or the planned gas station that has drawn the anger of the residents. This time it’s speed bumps.

The city government wants to encourage motorists to apply the brakes by installing seven speed bumps and a raised crosswalk along 1300 South between Foothill Drive and 1700 East, and an additional four speed bumps at 2100 East between 1300 South and Browning Avenue (about 1500 South ) to install.

“There are many destinations on 1300 South,” said the city’s director of transportation, Jon Larsen. “We’ve often heard from local residents that they’re concerned it doesn’t feel like the safe, community-focused street it really could be.”

However, not everyone agrees with the plan.

Online petition attracts hundreds

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Homeowners along 1300 South between Foothill Drive and 1700 East posted yard signs calling for opposition to a plan to install speed bumps, Thursday, June 15, 2023.

An online petition urging the city to “stop speed bumps on 1300 South” had more than 450 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, revealing unusually strong opposition to a traffic calming measure typically adopted by neighborhoods .

The petition’s originator, Wasatch Hollow resident Judson Kemsley, said the rejection was not so much to oppose efforts to slow traffic as it was to complain about the city’s lack of communication.

“We are not against traffic calming measures; We’re not against safety,” Kemsley said. “We want our streets to be safe, but we want the city to review this process as usual and get the community involved.”

Kemsley, who lives at 1300 South, said he was told about the project by a postcard sent out by the city a few weeks ago. Most of his neighbors, he said, threw away theirs without ever looking at them.

The proposal for 1300 South and 2100 East is part of a broader effort to slow traffic across the city. Last year, the city council passed a measure to reduce the speed limit on residential streets to 20 miles per hour and passed a budget that provided funding for projects to slow cars.

Too fast to slow traffic?

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Homeowners along 1300 South between Foothill Drive and 1700 East posted yard signs calling for opposition to a plan to install speed bumps, Thursday, June 15, 2023.

Larsen said the city acted quickly to address safety concerns along the busy road. Late last year, an 11-year-old girl was killed at a crosswalk at the intersection of 2100 East and 1300 South.

While Larsen is used to hearing complaints about the city not moving fast enough, he understands why there can be frustration when plans seem to be picking up steam.

“We’re always trying to find the balance of moving fast on things that we know has a lot of support — because there’s a lot of support for this project in this community — but also giving everyone the opportunity to have their voice to raise.” be heard before all is final.”

Councilor Dan Dugan, who represents the area, said the city has conducted public engagements over the past six months, but he is aware there is room for improvement.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of these conversations and thought we were doing a good job at it,” he said, “but it doesn’t sound like we’ve done enough.”

Improving safety on the neighborhood’s streets has inspired Taymour Semnani to challenge Dugan for his 6th District seat this year.

Semnani believes Kemsley is serious about his concerns, but said making the neighborhood safer is the most important thing.

“As a parent, your children’s safety is your number one priority,” he said. “If you can get it, don’t care how you get it – just know your kids are safe. From this perspective, I support the speed limits.”

Could speed bumps be too loud?

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Homeowners along 1300 South between Foothill Drive and 1700 East posted yard signs calling for opposition to a plan to install speed bumps, Thursday, June 15, 2023.

To express their opposition to the project, some residents put up signs along the road demanding “No speed limits on 1300 South.” The signs contain a scannable code that links to the online petition raising concerns about noise pollution, poor drainage, freezing winter conditions and slower response times from first responders.

“While she [speed humps] While they provide a level of security for our community, they also come with downsides,” Kemsley said. “We would like the city to discuss this with residents so we can make an informed decision about whether this is best for our neighborhood.”

However, Larsen said there wasn’t much evidence to support those fears. Modern speed bumps are not as noisy as yesterday’s constructions, he said, and public safety agencies have not expressed any concern about the city’s proposals.

Those speed bumps are convenient to drive over when someone is going over the speed limit, he said.

Kem and Alison Elbrader, meanwhile, expressed support for the project at a June 13 City Council meeting.

Alison Elbrader said she, her husband and their two children were close when they were “swept off the page” on their way home from the grocery store at 1300 South and 1700 East.

“Although our encounter ended with a dented stroller and a minor scratch, we were inches from disaster,” she said. “We were lucky. Others in our neighborhood weren’t so lucky.”

Loud Voices vs. Silent Majority?

Kem Elbrader told council members that support for the project in his neighborhood was overwhelming and that the concerns set out in the petition were raised without evidence.

“The voices against it are loud,” said Elbrader, “but they do not represent the majority.”

Construction of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this summer.

Larsen said there was a “slight chance” that the project would be adjusted based on resident feedback, but the city had already hired a contractor to start construction.

“Especially in today’s environment,” he said, “a good location is when you have a solid project and a contractor willing to build it on budget.”

Justin Scaccy

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