Jeramey Jannene

City Approves 31 New Speed Humps, More Expected

But backlog of sidewalk repairs looms

By - Apr 8th, 2022 06:39 pm
A speed hump on S. 28th St. Photo by Dave Reid.

A speed hump on S. 28th St. Photo by Dave Reid.

Be on the lookout for new speed humps in Milwaukee.

The Common Council’s Public Works Committee approved 31 new installations Thursday morning. And more are coming.

“We have had 193 requests come in,” said City Engineer Jerrel Kruschke. He said another 26 are in the queue for approval and surveys need to be done for 81 more. First tested in 2007, the city now has more than 500 on non-arterial streets.

There are at least two factors driving a surge in requests. A growing awareness of reckless driving has driven more efforts to deter or prevent speeding and resulted in Mayor Cavalier Johnson declaring reckless driving a public safety crisis on his first day in office. Two, the city reduced the cost to property owners to install the speed humps by more than 66%.

The Department of Public Works now intends to get them installed faster. “We have broken up the contracts for speed humps into smaller ones instead of doing one or two a year,” said Kruschke. The next batch will go out for bid next week said the engineer and be installed this summer.

The council cut the price of speed humps by allocating $1 million of its $394.2 million American Rescue Plan Act grant toward installations. Historically, the city charged $6.50 per foot of street frontage to property owners on the block where a hump was installed, yielding an average bill of $250. The ARPA allocation allowed the city to cut the cost to $2 per foot, for an average cost of $80. Property owners can elect to spread the charge over 10 years.

The Public Works Committee, which holds a hearing for each new asphalt hump, would routinely hear concerns about the cost. On Thursday only one individual spoke in opposition to any of the 31 humps. Their concerns, related to a block on N. 14th, was that the hump would increase pollution and engine revving while decreasing property values. Multiple residents spoke in favor of other installations. Postcard surveys are sent out to all of the impacted property owners.

Anyone interested in requesting a speed hump should contact their council representative and DPW, the latter has a specific form that needs to be filled out. A postcard survey, with estimated costs and a notice of a hearing before the Public Works Committee, will go out to area residents. Those initiating the process do not need to be a property owner on the block. DPW will perform a study to evaluate options for calming traffic.

Want a speed hump on an alley? The city will install one, but without the ARPA subsidy. There are also questions about their effectiveness because a channel is needed in the middle to allow water to drain.

Sidewalk Repair

While a surge in speed humps is underway, the city’s effort to repair sidewalk sections continues to be delayed. Residents requesting the city repair a sidewalk square in front of their home should expect to wait several years.

“We are about three and a half years back on requests we receive,” said DPW project manager Holly Rutenbeck. Part of that is because the city heavily subsidizes the repairs. Property owners are charged $4.25 per square foot, approximately $100 per sidewalk square, but the city ends up paying a contractor approximately $16 per square foot, approximately $400. Ruttenbeck said the cost is high because contractors are sent all over the city.

Committee chair Alderman Robert Bauman asked if DPW was interested in accelerating that work. “We would have to reach to contractors to find out,” said Ruttenback of the capacity.

“If someone offers to pay 100% of the cost can they jump the line?” said Bauman.

Sort of. They can hire their own contractors to perform the work, but the contractor must comply with city regulations because the work is in the public right of way. “Most people choose to wait to pay the lower cost,” said Ruttenbeck.

The committee unanimously endorsed the previously-budgeted $850,000 allocation towards sidewalk repair in 2022.

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Related Legislation: File 211863

Categories: Transportation

2 thoughts on “Transportation: City Approves 31 New Speed Humps, More Expected”

  1. Wardt01 says:

    thanks for including a link to the Common Council file!

  2. Betsy Blair says:

    Traveling in Chile I was told speed humps are called “sleeping policeman”
    Love it

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