Speed hump slows traffic on Ely Street

An experimental “speed hump” is slowing traffic along one of Oak Harbor’s busier side streets.

On Tuesday, city road crews installed the three-and-half-inch-high hump along Ely Street.

City officials say this residential street, which feeds into downtown, has proved to be a magnet for speeding motorists who use it as an alternate route to Highway 20.

Although the street’s speed limit is posted at 25 mph, neighbors have long complained about speeding cars gunning through their neighborhood. There have also been a number of accidents at the intersection of Southeast Eighth Street and Ely Street, as well as at other points along the popular street.

City engineers decided to install a temporary speed hump as a way to reduce speeds and accidents. The rubber hump, which is removable and bolted to a track placed on the street, is expected to be in place for the next three weeks. It sits about 200 feet north of the intersection between Southeast Ely and Southeast Eighth streets.

New signs will alert motorists to the hump. At the same time, city engineers will be monitoring traffic patterns with an automated traffic counter. The counter tells engineers the speed and volume of cars that pass along a particular stretch of street.

“One reason we’re doing this as a trial measure is that we want to know if the neighbors think it’s working,” said Oak Harbor Civil Engineer Eric Johnston. “We do want the feedback.”

Only after monitoring the results of the speed hump will city engineers consider whether to make the speed hump permanent.

“We need solid data to support the installation,” Johnston said. “It’s worse to put the wrong device in than to put nothing in.”

Last year, the city placed the same temporary speed hump along a section of Northeast 10th Avenue and had good results. Two permanent speed humps were installed in January.

In addition to slowing traffic along Ely, city engineers are also grappling with the accident-prone intersection of Ely and Southeast Eighth. Recently, city road crews put down temporary stop bars at the stop signs along Southeast Eighth. Motorists often have a difficult time gauging when to cross the intersection because Ely Street bends there.

Johnston said the city is looking at all kinds of options to solve this problem, from installing a landscaped traffic circle to removing trees that block a motorist’s line of sight.

Johnston said he encourages the public to call him with questions and comments. He can be reached at 679-6303.

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