Jeramey Jannene

Council Mulls Speed Hump Policy

Nearly 250 to be installed in 2022, but what should city do next year and at what cost?

By - Sep 8th, 2022 01:25 pm
A speed hump on S. 28th St. Photo by Dave Reid.

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

Have a problem with reckless driving in front of your home? One of the most straightforward, and often effective, options for Milwaukee residents is to request the Department of Public Works install a speed hump.

After a hearing before the Common Council, DPW will hire a contractor to lay down the asphalt. Property owners on the block then pay for the majority of the hump, with an option to spread it out over 10 years.

But given a surge in reckless driving, and speed humps, the question now is how much should property owners be paying? Historically, the city charged a property owner an average of $250 ($6.50 per foot of street frontage). But the city slashed that rate to approximately $80 ($2 per foot) for much of 2022 and covered the cost with $1 million from the city’s $394.2 million American Rescue Plan Act grant.

The price cut was popular. Since the program was initiated in 2007, the city had installed approximately 500. In 2022 the city estimates it will install 246 humps at the cheaper rate, exhausting the funds.

DPW is now seeking to revert the funding formula to its prior level, intended to recover 90% of the cost.

“I would love to keep it at the lower rate, but the impacts to the Department of Public Works budget would be huge,” said City Engineer and interim commissioner Jerrel Kruschke to the Public Works Committee Thursday morning.

Alderman Robert Bauman and other council members balked at the idea.

“I don’t know that this is a good idea, this is only $1 million, not $10 million,” said the alderman. “Reckless driving hasn’t abated one iota.”

Bauman said the surge in demand was an indicator that people feel they’re an effective tool to combat reckless driving and improve quality of life.

“And we get them done, unlike a lot of these other projects,” said the alderman.

Kruschke said other projects were moving forward, but require more engineering work. Later in the meeting, he detailed that many of the other pending projects, including a new style of curb bump out designed to block right-hand passing, would be constructed in 2023.

But the interim commissioner, who has a pending appointment to the full job, said DPW had worked to ensure the speed humps would be deployed faster. It split what is normally two private installation contracts into four. The first batch is already done, a second is due for Oct. 1 completion and the final two are to be completed by Nov. 18.

Bauman suggested that council members might want to allocate money to support more speed humps during the 2023 budget process, which kicks off later this month. The alderman, who serves as the committee chair, asked if any of the committee members would move to hold the measure. Two quickly volunteered.

With no speed humps in the queue for immediate approval, the committee unanimously held the price change. But Kruschke indicated requests will be forthcoming. He said DPW is in receipt of 27 requests and working on reviewing them. A postcard survey is conducted for each in advance of a hearing.

According to legislative records, recent speed humps have cost the city between $7,100 and $12,000. The city installs them on side streets and has refined the design over time to avoid issues like buses bottoming out between axles.

A similar 90% cost recovery framework is in place for two other traffic calming measures: speed tables and traffic circles. Speed tables, which can be installed on busier streets, include a less pronounced bump. The newest speed tables can be found on S. Superior St. in Bay View near South Shore Park.

Categories: City Hall, Weekly

One thought on “Council Mulls Speed Hump Policy”

  1. nickzales says:

    Why not try locking up these reckless drivers? Two reckless driving tickets in three years and the City can send the file to the District Attorney for prosecution. Why isn’t this being done? Get these people off the street before they kill someone.

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