By Larry Perl, email@example.com
10:53 AM EDT, July 13, 2012
Tuscany-Canterbury residents Thursday asked the city for traffic-calming measures, including speed bumps along West 39th Street in both directions.
But some residents at a public meeting criticized a traffic-calming roundabout, already planned at 39th and Canterbury Road, as too dangerous for trucks, too costly for taxpayers and too small to slow traffic.
The so-called mountable mini-roundabout would be built low to the ground and designed to withstand a vehicle running over it, transportation officials said.
However, "It won't be something people will want to drive over," said James Harkness, deputy director of the transportation department's traffic division.
Resident Irena Makarushka worried that it would be "a circular speed bump."
More than 40 people filled the First English Lutheran Church library for the meeting, to address traffic and pedestrian safety concerns in the neighborhood. City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, a longtime resident of Tuscany-Canterbury, and the city's Department of Transportation convened the meeting.
The residents asked for speed bumps on West 39th, between University Parkway and Canterbury Road, especially in the area of the Broadview Apartments, as well as speed cameras in the area. They also said they want the traffic light at 39th and North Charles Street retimed.
They asked transportation officials to provide data on traffic volume and speed. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour on West 39th, but "It's become a speedway," said Clarke, a resident since 1967.
"People fly," said Debra Stallings, manager of the Broadview at 39th and University.
A car struck a resident there last year, she said.
A speed study would have to be done and 70 percent of area residents would have to sign a petition calling for speed bumps, Transportation Director Kalil Zaied told the residents.
As for speed cameras, the city may be able to install another five to eight cameras this year and more next year, Zaied said.
The city's speed camera contract with ACS expires this month, but the transportation department plans to ask the city Board of Estimates on July 25 to extend the contract through the end of the year, Zaied said. The contract would be renewed next year, he said.
Residents at the meeting also peppered officials with questions and editorial comments about the $100,000 roundabout, reflecting the long-running debate in the community, even as the city plans to break ground in September. They worried about everything from why taxpayers must pay for a roundabout to what effect it could have on Calvert School, where construction has begun on a separate project.
"How's it going to help pedestrians?" asked resident Gail Keller, who lives in the 100 block of West 39th.
"You take your life in your hands" crossing the road, Keller said.
Mark Brown, the roundabout project, said it would improve traffic and pedestrian safety, as well as traffic flow, at Canterbury and 39th.
And with its brick pavers and other flourishes, it would improve the aesthetics of the area, Brown said.
Most residents agreed that the roundabout, while not a preferred solution to speeding and safety problems, is the best fix available.
Clarke said transportation officials have consistently rejected other alternatives over the years, such as 4-way stop signs and more traffic signals.
And resident Tina Trapane reminded residents that the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association voted "overwhelmingly" in favor of the roundabout after a 2-year debate.
"I would like to stand up in defense of it," Trapane said to a burst of applause. "There's going to be a certain calming effect just having that roundabout there. I think it will give (the intersection) a much more neighborhood look.
"We should give it a chance," she said.
In the meeting's lightest moment, resident Judy Avera said the roundabout should have a statue as part of the project, and that she had the perfect subject for a statue at 39th and Canterbury '—Theobald of Bec, the 39th Archbishop of Canterbury.