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Council approves installation of speed bumps at Amhurst Gardens

To help mitigate speeding at Amhurst Gardens, the city-owned apartment complex, the Albemarle City Council Monday night approved the installation of speed bumps on Bell Avenue, Griggs Street and Inger Street.

Public Housing Director N. Lee Staton, who celebrated his one-year anniversary with the city last week, told council that in speaking with residents, the issue of safety and the need for speed bumps in the area has always comes up.

In a sign of solidarity around the issue, 110 residents of the apartment community, which has 150 units, signed a petition in support of speed bumps, Staton said.

“I know for a fact that an overwhelming number of them want some kind of safety measures put in place to stop these cars from flying up and down the street,” Staton said, adding that it’s been an issue for years.

There are several apartment communities in Albemarle with far less units that already have speed bumps, including Ridge Run Apartments (48 units), Henson Place Apartments (48 units) and Chimney Apartments (68 units).

Other preventative measures that have recently been put in place at the public housing community include the installation of posts and chains to prevent driving/parking on the grass and the installation of security cameras.

While the city does not have an adopted policy on speed bump placement, in the past city councils have used what was the accepted criteria for speed bump placement as their guide. Staton said his request met all the speed bump qualifying requirements except for 1,000 average daily vehicles — though it’s close.

In a traffic study conducted on streets in South Albemarle last summer by the police department, Staton noted that Inger Street had the second-highest number of vehicles during a 24-hour period with 894, behind only Leonard Avenue with around 1,500.

In a recent email to Assistant City Manager Nyki Hardy regarding the issue, Staton offered personal testimony, writing that “there is not a day that goes by in which I do not see, or hear, a vehicle speeding down one of the streets in Amhurst Gardens.”

Citing an article in the American Journal of Public Health, Staton wrote that pedestrian injuries caused by automobile collisions are a leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14. He noted that 31 percent of residents at Amhurst Gardens are young people in that same age bracket.

The idea to install bumps has been discussed, vetted and given the green light by the heads of the police, fire, planning and public works departments.

“Since law enforcement cannot be everywhere, the use of speed bumps will significantly enhance everyone’s safety that enters Public Housing property,” said Police Chief David Dulin.

Fire Chief T. Pierre Brewton said from a safety point of view, the speed bumps will “slow vehicles down while people are out socializing, walking and children are out playing.”

The budgeted cost to install six speed bumps throughout the Amhurst Garden community is $15,000, Staton said, around $2,500 per speed bump. Funds are available in the current fiscal year 2020 Public Housing Department Budget. Staton plans to install removable pre-manufactured recycled rubber speed bumps, which have a life expectancy of around 15 years.

Staton noted that while other mitigation measures, like flashing signs, cameras or intermittent traffic enforcement, can change behavior for only a short period, speed bumps “remain a deterrent no matter how accustomed drivers become to their presence.”

The council unanimously approved the installation of the speed bumps.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Councilman Dexter Townsend said.

Staton told the paper in an email Tuesday that the work to install the speed bumps should be completed by June 30 “at the latest.”

In other news, the council approved meeting once a month during the summer. Those dates will be June 7, July 12 and Aug. 2.

The next regular council meeting will be 6:30 p.m. April 19.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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