Speed Humps for Smith Street

February 28, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Two speed humps are proposed for E. Smith Street between S. Burrell St. and S. Howell Avenue, one in the 200 block and the other the 300 block.

Ald. Tony Zielinski announced that two humps were approved by Milwaukee’s Department of Public Words for Smith Street. DPW’s traffic engineer will determine the location of the speed humps that would be installed. The Common Council will vote on the proposal March 1.

Artist and MIAD faculty member Waldek Dynerman has lived on the affected area of Smith for 15 years. He said he sees speeding almost every day on his narrow street in a neighborhood populated with many children.

Kim Kelly lives in the 200 block of E. Smith St. She said, “Traffic is pretty bad year round and worse in summer when traffic is flying through.” Like Dynerman, Kelly said there are many children in the two-block stretch and on neighboring blocks.

She worries about her four grandchildren when they visit her and speculates the speeders are teenagers.

Residents of the 200 and 300 blocks of E. Smith requested speed humps to slow traffic on their narrow residential street. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Dynerman attributed some of the traffic to patrons leaving the Quick Pick gas station on the southwest corner of Howell and Smith. He said he thinks that others, who want to travel east on Lincoln Avenue, turn west on Smith from Howell in order to avoid the busy intersection of Howell, Kinnickinnic, and Lincoln avenues. Smith runs parallel to Lincoln and is one block south.

Dynerman became aware that his neighbors were similarly alarmed by the dangerous traffic on Smith when he was presented with a petition that called for traffic calming and again, when he received a postcard from Ald. Zielinski about the proposed traffic calming measure.

Zielinski said he’s overseen the installation of about 10 speed humps in Bay View during his tenure. “They’ve definitely reduced the amount of traffic and the speed. If they go over them full speed, they’ll destroy their car,” he said.

He responded to his constituents’ calls for help by mailing a postcard to those in the affected area of Smith to gauge their support or opposition. The consensus supported installing humps.

DPW said the estimated project cost for two speed humps on Smith is $11,600 and includes the hump, signage, and pavement markings. One speed hump would cost approximately $6,000.

Property owners would foot the bill. The length of the portion of land that abuts Smith Street determines the amount each property owner would be assessed. Each assessment is a portion of the project cost and per city ordinance is $6.50 per lineal foot of abutting property.

Zielinski said the average homeowner would be assessed $160 and that it could be paid off over a 10-year period. The assessment shows up on the resident’s property tax bill.

“I’m very glad that a speed bump is coming. France has speed bumps everywhere. They have them at crosswalks in large cities and villages, everywhere. I will gladly pay the assessment. People’s life and health is worth $160,” Dynerman said.

Dynerman accused city officials of having “a philosophy that is more for motorists than pedestrians.” He is concerned about the intersection of E. Smith and S. Howell Avenue, which he thinks would benefit from four-way stop signs. He’s seen accidents at that intersection.

Dynerman said he’s aware of and supports efforts by residents, business owners on Howell, as well as school officials and parents at Parkside, Saint Lucas, and Downtown Montessori to slow traffic on Howell Avenue between Lincoln and Oklahoma avenues, and he attended the meeting on the matter that was hosted by Zielinski at Parkside in January.

At that meeting a DPW traffic engineer said that his department would not consider speed humps for Howell because it is a key traffic arterial and used by emergency vehicles.

When the Compass asked Zielinski if the traffic calming requests for Smith Street were a priority over those made for Howell Avenue, he said, “The residents on Smith Street supported and were willing to pay for a speed hump. The school request was not for a speed hump — it was for a hump out. The difference is that the residents paid for the speed hump and the school has the city paying for it. If the school wants to pay for the hump outs I am sure we can get that built really quick.”

DPW said that its traffic engineers did not conduct a speed study on E. Smith Street.

Zielinski anticipates that the hump or humps will be installed on Smith in July or August.

He said that residents seeking information about getting a speed hump for their street should contact him via his Facebook page or call/text him: 414-405-1483.

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