City rips out residents' Costco-bought speed bumps

City rips out residents' Costco-bought speed bumps »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Johnny Arthurs didn't think twice about installing homemade speed bumps in his South Seattle neighborhood.

He and his neighbors raised $900, bought 12-foot speed bumps at Costco, and cut them in half so they could place eight of them along 39th Street in New Holly.

"We were seeing 35, 45 to 50-miles an hour traffic, " Arthurs said. "(We saw) people just flying through here. Usually this is a race track during the day."

Arthurs says drivers started to slow down within weeks, but the Seattle Department of Transportation removed the speed bumps Wednesday saying they were illegally installed without their approval.

"We can't have residents unilaterally put down their own speed bumps because that would create chaos for us across the city," said Rick Sheridan with Seattle SDOT.

The scuffle is the latest in a three-year long fight that has pitted the New Holly neighborhood against city leaders.

Arthurs says he has noticed an increase in traffic and speeding drivers since he moved in three years ago. He says drivers are using the narrow road to avoid traffic lights on busier streets like Martin Luther King Way, which sits one block east.

"Drivers would side-swipe cars," said resident T.J. Seibert. "Neighbors have trouble backing out of their driveway."

Frustrated neighbors began taking note a few years ago. They clocked drivers with radar guns and tracked them for one week, noting their speed on charts. Others signed petitions calling on the city to install speed bumps and street signs warning drivers to slow down.

But Sheridan says problems on 39th Street don't warrant speed bumps. SDOT typically installs them in areas where 85 percent of cars are driving 10 mph over the speed limit. A traffic study conducted by SDOT crews in 2007 revealed that drivers in New Holly were going slower than other neighborhoods in the city, he said.

Seibert argues the traffic and speeds have gotten worse since that study.

SDOT plans to install a traffic circle at the intersection of 39th Street and South Holly Park Drive later this year and Sheridan says his crews will meet with neighbors soon to take a second look. The city has already allocated $15,000 to the neighborhood, which can be used for traffic signs.