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Speed humps aren't always first traffic safety option

"By HEIDI J. STOUTStaff WriterWhen people bend Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer’s ear, they often say the same thing.“One of the primary complaints I hear is people concerned about their kids’ safety around automobiles,” Boyer said. But there are not enough sheriff deputies available to patrol every neighborhood all the time, so the County Commissioners decided to adopt a local traffic safety plan.The plan was created by county Public Works Department staff, which developed a three-tiered approach to calming neighborhood traffic.Education is the first step. Boyer said deputies are now visiting county roads with a radar/readerboard apparatus to demonstrate to drivers and neighbors whether the speeding problem is real or perceived. The Public Works Department might also erect signs advising drivers of pedestrian crossings, trim brush for added visibility and mark pavement with stop lines or crosswalks.Because the plan addresses neighborhood speeding issues, most county residents won’t see changes on their normal commute routes. Primarily, residential “local access” and “minor collector” roads are affected.Residents are responsible for getting the ball rolling. Once citizens ask for help with a traffic problem on their street, officials take the first step of educating drivers and enforcing traffic laws.If that’s not enough, engineers can install speed humps, speed bumps, slow points, curb extensions, traffic plateaus or traffic circles, depending on the characteristics of the street and traffic.But these measures are expensive, so the local traffic safety program also established a point system to prioritize neighborhoods most in need of help. If neighbors don’t want to wait for their project to rise to the top of the list, they may split the cost among themselves and see the device installed more quickly. “Common sense should enter into driving issues,” Boyer said. “You decrease accidents in a three-pronged approach; through enforcement, engineering and education,” and sometimes relying on just one of these methods isn’t enough.The pressure’s on for Dusty Wiley, the county traffic investigator who leads development of the plan.“They’re calling me all the time,” he said of residents who’ve heard about the program and want a speed bump installed in their neighborhood. “My phone rings all the time. I can’t get up from my desk - they’re driving me crazy.”Wiley said he has more than 300 speed bump requests, and he added that many residents expect the bumps will be installed immediately.Given the Public Works Department’s limited resources, that won’t happen. Wiley requested $100,000 in next year’s budget, which will tackle some of the most pressing projects.“Everyone seems to think they should have a couple of speed bumps in front of their house,” Wiley said. But slowing drivers to 20 mph on just one mile of road would take 23 speed bumps, and it is impractical to scatter the devices everywhere around the county, he noted.And, Wiley added, he is sometimes skeptical of speeding complaints. Some people who complain speed through their own neighborhoods.“I’ve gotten a petition (for a speed bump) before and gone to that neighborhood, and some of the people I end up ticketing (for speeding) are the ones who signed the petition,” Wiley said.Residents who want to lodge traffic complaints can fill out an electronic form on the Sheriff Department’s Web page. The address is www.wa.gov/kitsap."

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