Originally created 06/26/04

County leaders consider ending speed hump plan



It's the hottest accessory for Columbia County neighborhoods, and it seems as ifs everyone wants one.

But the decision on who gets tax-funded speed humps and the increasing cost to lay them down is causing some county officials to become frustrated with the program.

On Tuesday, county commissioners will consider suspending or eliminating the speed hump program, which was approved in 2000 as a way to deter drivers from racing through subdivisions.

The county faces 137 requests for speed humps from residents, and a major disadvantage to the program is the $1,000 it costs to install each roadway bump, said Construction and Maintenance Director Kevin Lear.

"Where do you put them?" he said. "Do you put them on every street in every subdivision where people speed?"

Other concerns Mr. Lear cited were the slowing down of emergency vehicles and the fact that the county has to pay to remove the humps before the state Department of Transportation will help fund that road's repaving.

He said he is recommending an end to the program, and under his proposal, existing humps would be taken away only if the street is being repaved.

Since the program started, the county has installed 47 speed humps and is building a dozen more.

Mr. Lear said he thinks the inclusion of more curves in the planning of new subdivisions and more aggressive enforcement from police are better ways to deter speeders - an opinion shared by County Commissioner Steve Brown.

"You enforce the law," Mr. Brown said. "You hire more deputies or make them go out there.

"Speed humps are not going to affect speeding problems."

But Sheriff Clay Whittle said ending the program is not a practical solution for most neighborhoods.

He said the state DOT has to give a special permit that stipulates several conditions before police are allowed to use radar guns on subdivision roads. There are no roads with such a permit in Columbia County, he said.

Sheriff Whittle said the speed humps have been effective in slowing cars down.

"We used to have (speeding) complaints a lot in West Lake years ago, and I don't get near the complaints that I used to get," he said. "From our experience, they work - it's 24/7 coverage around the clock."

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.