A series of close calls and years of speeding have finally been enough for one Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood. A group of neighbors living along the eastern portion of Kachina Drive are working together to get speed humps placed on their street.
It’s unknown how long the process to put a speed bump or two in takes, but according to Kerry Wilcoxon, a Phoenix traffic engineer, it all depends on the results of a city traffic study and the commitment from neighbors. He’s seen some go up in as little as four weeks and others can take more than a year.
The city strives to make the process transparent. When a neighborhood contacts them for information about a speed hump the city asks the petitioner to get signatures from nine of their neighbors and themselves, to approve the city using funds for a traffic study. Once those signatures are turned in a traffic study is scheduled for the road in question.
A counter with two black hoses on each end is placed on the street. When a car goes over the hoses the counter can detect that a car has passed over it, what direction the car was traveling, and how fast the car was traveling, Wilcoxon said. This information is usually collected over a 48-hour time period in the middle of the week when traffic is at its peak. At the end of the study the information is collected and sent back to the resident who made the initial request.
The city has a budget of about $30,000 per year to install speed humps. Each hump can cost between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on the amount of asphalt needed. Depending on the results from the traffic study, the neighborhood or the HOA is asked to pay a portion of the cost of the speed bump. If there are 1,000 cars going down the street per day or the average speed of the cars is more than 10 miles over the speed limit, the city may cover more of the cost of the speed hump. If there are less than 1,000 cars or if the average speed is 25 mph or less, the neighbors who want the speed humps may be asked to pay more, Wilcoxon said.
Once the results from the study are given to the resident, they must decide whether or not they want to continue with the process. If they continue there are two more rounds of signature gathering, particularly from those who own homes directly in front of where a speed hump may be placed. Once the city is sure the neighbors have all agreed for speed bumps, they go through a design process and the humps are installed.
The effort on Kachina
So far the group collecting signatures for a study to be done on Kachina say they’ve received resounding support for speed humps on their street.
The effort is being lead by Kris and Gina Wagner, whose home was recently crashed into by some teens driving recklessly down the street. At the time, Gina had just gotten home with her two young kids and they had a group of friends over for a play date.
In total, eight young kids were inside the house. Thankfully they hadn’t sent them outside to play yet, otherwise the kids would have been playing right where the BMW crashed through their cinder block wall. From the point of impact blocks flew 75 feet. Kris said police estimate the kids may have been traveling up to 65 mph.
The teens are suspected of being drunk at the time of the accident so speed wasn’t the only issue, but Gina said the accident was the last straw. She walks her kids to preschool daily and said she constantly sees speeders coming down the road as they try to cross it.
“Just crossing right here every morning we’ve had several instances where people have slammed on their brakes because they’re coming around the corner too fast and we’re in the middle of crossing the street,” she said. “The speed limit is 25. It shouldn’t be a problem, but we’ve had a couple scary encounters. They’re just commuters trying to get to work or drop their kids off, but they just take that corner way too fast.”
Just a few weeks before the car crashed into the Wagner’s fence Lisa Malachowsky, who lives on Kachina, said she had a scary run-in with a speeder while walking her three dogs on the street. She was walking along the side of the road when a woman, speeding, took the turn too wide and hit her dog.
The dog was not hurt badly, but Malachowsky said she was only a foot away from the dog and the incident was too close. She called the city right away.
“Between those two incidents we’ve really gotten mobilized to get these speed bumps dealt with,” Malachowsky said. “I’ve seen speeding almost every day on that road. It’s amazing someone hasn’t been killed on this road.”
This isn’t the first time a group has tried to get speed humps on the lower portion of Kachina. Dan Jones, who has lived on Kachina since 1995, said he went around with a petition at least five years ago. The city came out and did a traffic study back then, but he believes the results were flawed.
“They came back and said, ‘Well we actually didn’t find that the cars were speeding that much over the posted speed limit,’” he said. “They said they got an average of 28 or something like that. I pointed out to them that one of their censors was near Dakota, which is a street that feeds onto Kachina. Cars would come around the corner, stop and look for traffic, and then come around the corner at about 5 mph. To me, that made it a flawed study.”
Because the results of the study were not what was expected the issue was let go.
Jones said from what he’s seen the Wagners are more motivated than he was to get the speed humps installed and their broken fence is a good visual for anyone who doubts there’s a problem.
“We’ve been here three years and in the past three or four years there’s been an influx of younger families moving in because market prices dropped,” Gina said. “The problem has become more critical because suddenly there are a lot more kids all under the age of 10 and all living in this concentrated part of the neighborhood. We just want to raise awareness that there are more kids in the neighborhood and there’s more need to be cautious.”
There are speed humps already on Kachina, but further up and closer to the mountain.
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