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Council approves traffic calming bill

LIHU‘E — A bill clarifying and outlining the county’s Department of Public Works and Kaua‘i County Council’s roles in determining measures to slow down traffic has passed through the legislative body.

Bill No. 2824, which was introduced by Councilmember Billy DeCosta in June at the request of the administration, passed unanimously Wednesday and awaits Mayor Derek Kawakami’s signature before becoming law.

The bill modifies the existing speed hump ordinance, creating a more comprehensive “traffic calming” ordinance, which refers to the physical means of slowing down vehicle traffic, including speed bumps, speed tables, lateral shifts, narrowing lanes or roundabouts.

Prior to this bill, the county ordinance really only gave the county the authority to place speed humps on local residential streets.

The bill also removes some of the council’s approval in establishing certain measures.

The department will be able to temporarily install certain measures, like speed humps, without council’s vote. The temporary installation would only be allowed for two years, unless the department seeks council approval.

“So, you (the council) still set the regulations, and you still determine when there would be a traffic calming measure or roundabout like that, but we would then, in Public Works, determine once those are approved, install those items, how are we going to sign and mark those, are we going to put in warning signs for the speed hump?” DPW Chief Engineer Michael Moule said in a June meeting.

Once signed into law, the public will be able to request speed humps for a $50 fee, instead of past practices that required a petition with 75% of residents within a 500-foot radius from the location of the proposed speed hump area signing in support before the county would perform a study on the area to determine feasibility.

“We think that some fee is important, we simply made it relatively low so it is affordable, but high enough that we do not get the ‘shotgun’ approach of someone requesting speed humps on every single traffic zone or every street and thereby overloading our ability to do the studies that are required in this proposed bill,” Moule said.

The department will continue to perform speed or traffic studies at the request of a resident. The difference is asking specifically for a traffic calming measure, which would require the fee and subsequent study to determine if a permanent structure is appropriate.

“I appreciate the temporary installation of traffic calming measures,” Councilmember Felicia Cowden said in June. “A lot of times, it is a now-not-later, is what we need. I also appreciate the application process with the $50 fee in that there is a very definitive request at that point, so it is measurable and it has that modest amount of money that demonstrates intent.”

When determining a traffic calming measure is warranted, the county will send a notification to at least 75% of landowners in the 500-foot radius from the location, as well existing community or neighborhood associations within 30 days.

An engineering study will be required to document safety and traffic concerns in the area to determine the appropriate mitigation efforts.

“I just wanted to add more on having to be involved in this whole transformation from the walkable, bikeable, and connected community, this whole discussion is based on safety-I totally support this discussion,” Councilmember Bernard Carvalho said in June.
Source: The Garden Island

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