Long-time Raleigh resident and Midtown CAC Chair Larry Helfant spoke to Council about traffic calming on June 20, 2023:

Like many people before me, I want to address traffic calming, both generally and specifically. As previously noted by Councilor Forte and Mayor Baldwin, there have been many neighborhood complaints about both the traffic calming on Hardimont and Harps Mill. Both projects have been trying experiences for drivers.

I don’t know a lot about the Harps Mill project but based on public comment, it did not pass the neighborhood ballot system and was completed by the transportation group without public input. I point this out only because Council has questioned if these projects can be completed in a simpler, quicker manner without public input. I think that the project on Harps Mill is an example of what happens when the public is not involved.

The Hardimont project did have public buy-in, however community engagement was far too limited. Only those within a block of the project were included in neighborhood meetings although it is a major thoroughfare through the community.

So what went wrong. In the case of Hardimont, the plan was good but the execution was far from acceptable and it sat for months without completion. In the interim, speed humps were unmarked, curbing for bike lane protection were installed too close to the intersections, and speed humps were installed so far from the curb that cars could drive around the speed hump unimpeded. Warning signage was placed at the speed hump so drivers had no advance warning before hitting them at higher speeds.

Finally, after two months, most of the needed corrections were made. During that interim, almost every barrel was hit or crushed and fixed signs were flattened. Flexible delineators, added to limit driving around speed humps, have been hit or removed.

The community did their part. They were patient during this process although the traffic calming group was contacted several times about the situation. Invitations to meet with the community were never accepted. We still don’t know if the project is complete.

Improvements that still need to be made are reflective marking of the roundabout, extending and limiting space between curb and speed hump, appropriate placement of warning signs and cutting back bike protection curbing from intersections.

OK – now the big community ask. I brought this to Councilor Branch’s attention, asking that traffic calming be discussed in the Transit and Transportation committee. It doesn’t seem like there is any continuity between projects. There is also a question whether streets intended to carry greater volumes of traffic should have traffic calming. What is the City’s plan? Better yet, is there a plan?

Councilor Branch deferred my request and directed my comments back to the City Manager and Transportation group. I have not seen any updates for Hardimont.

To date, there hasn’t been any communication on project status unless specifically requested by residents. So again I ask, please direct this to the appropriate committee so there is a path forward. We may be achieving the objective of slowing motorists but I don’t think we are achieving that goal in the safest, most effective manner.

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