Woodland Heights Revised Neighborhood Traffic Calming Plan / by Mark Sternfels

Background

Over the last six years, a number of residents have worked tirelessly with the city to try to address the traffic issues in Woodland Heights, which has now culminated in Woodland Heights joining the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP). The city has made it clear that NTMP is the only option for calming traffic in Woodland Heights, as:

  • the city will not install additional stop signs,
  • the city will not lower the speed limits in Woodland Heights or any other residential area from 30 mph to 20 or 25 mph (unlike the trend in most other major cities…there’s another story here),
  • the city will not fund additional law enforcement presence to police speeding and reckless driving. 

A brief description of the traffic calming plan and background is below. The current phase of the project as shown below is the city’s continued receipt of comments, questions and concerns of the attached revised traffic calming plan through April 16, 2016. If you are interested in joining the Woodland Heights Traffic Committee please contact our new WHCA, Infrastructure VP Phil Teague.

The Plan

The traffic calming plan uses two devices: speed cushions and traffic circles. These devices would in no way take away from private property or existing city easements. The proposed plan is temporary for a test period of 90 to 210 days. At the conclusion of the test period, another traffic study will be performed to verify that speeds/volumes were reduced on the main streets, and traffic did not shift to other streets. Based on the test results, the city may modify the traffic calming plan. 
 
Following the test period, an additional neighborhood meeting will take place. If the neighborhood approves the installation of permanent devices then the director of the program and the city council must approve the installation of permanent devices. Examples of speed cushions and traffic circles are shown below. The NTMP process can also be found here. Neighborhood residents have spent countless hours volunteering to assist with the coordination of the plan and notification to all neighborhood residents.
 
The initial traffic circles will be constructed of plastic bollards, simply to test the effectiveness of the traffic circles. The final traffic circles will be permanent structures, constructed of concrete, and landscaped. The city will not allow the plastic bollards to remain in place permanently. The neighborhood would fund half the cost of the traffic circles and would maintain the landscaping. The cost of the proposed permanent traffic circles would be approximately $5,000-$7,000 with the city matching the neighborhood’s payment of costs. The city currently has a fund of $80,000 to provide for such matching (city wide) and the city council may approve further funds into the matching program.

Example of speed humps.

Example of a traffic circle.

Timeline/Important Dates

January 12, 2011 - with support of the Woodland Heights Civic Association, an application is made by a group of residents for Woodland Heights to participate in the NTMP.
 
June 12, 2013 - a group of residents concerned about mounting traffic issues submits a separate petition to the city asking the Woodland Heights be considered for the NTMP.
 
July 9, 2013 - Woodland Heights resident William Getschow speaks in front of the City Council regarding traffic and speeding in Woodland Heights. Mayor Parker tells Mr. Getschow to pursue the NTMP program, and assigns Mr. Alvin Wright to meet with Mr. Getschow.
 
October 31, 2013 - Mr. Getschow meets with Director Weatherford from Public Works. Director Weatherford advises Mr. Getschow that the neighborhood’s only option for reducing traffic speeds and volumes is to enroll in the NTMP program. 
 
Nov 2014 - Woodland Heights is notified that the city has accepted the NTMP applications, and the project will start in 2015.
 
January 13, 2015 - the city holds a public meeting at Hogg Middle School to announce the start of the NTMP project for Woodland Heights, and explain the process. Prior to the meeting, the city mailed out a notice of the meeting to 2484 unique addresses the city could identify within the study area.
 
April 8-14, 2015 - the city performs a traffic study in Woodland Heights. The speeds and volumes of traffic were measured on every street in the neighborhood (with a couple exceptions), and at multiple points on any street longer than a few blocks. During the study, the traffic devices on several streets recorded vehicles traveling in excess of 70 mph.
 
September 15, 2015 - the city meets with the Neighborhood Traffic Committee to share the results of the traffic study, and their conclusions about traffic issues. The city also presents an overview of traffic calming devices and solicits neighborhood feedback on where the committee members would think certain devices would work best. Approximately 35 members of the traffic committee attend the meeting.
 
February 3, 2016 - the city holds another public meeting at Hogg MS to present their suggested plan for calming traffic within Woodland Heights. Prior to this meeting, a meeting notice will mailed out to 2339 addresses within the study area. The meeting notice included a copy of the plan, and form that could be mailed in, or completed online for residents to voice support, or not, for the plan, and provide comments.
 
February 19, 2016 - last day for receiving comments about the plan.
 
March 28, 2016 – traffic committee meeting to discuss resident’s concerns about the proposed traffic calming plan.
 
April 1, 2016 – the city provides a revised traffic management plan for the Woodland Heights based on concerns raised at the March 28, 2016 meeting.  The city is continuing to accept comments and/or concerns about the revised traffic management plan through 4/6/16.