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Committee seeking speed table solutions in Hansville
HANSVILLE — Two groups divided over Hansville speed tables are beginning to find common ground, but the road to resolution remains long and bumpy.
County Commissioner Steve Bauer appointed the two committees of Hansville residents two years ago to study ways of making the controversial traffic controls more palatable to the town, while maintaining public safety. One group studied ways to remove the asphalt tables and replace them with alternative speed controls. The other looked at ways of improving the tables, which the Kitsap County Department of Public Works installed in 2007.
The committees reported to Bauer in Hansville on Tuesday night and found a handful of potential solutions to study together during the coming months. The combined committee will work toward a speed table plan to bring to the larger community for approval.
“My hope is they would come up with a solution or two, and then we’ll find a way to process that with the community,” Bauer said.
On Tuesday, the committees agreed to research four possible speed table solutions they roughly agreed on:
• First was to consider adding a gap in the middle of the tables to allow emergency vehicles to pass through more easily, while reshaping the tables to make them more consistent.
Concerns have been raised that the speed tables — installed on Bridge View Drive, Twin Spits Road, Point No Point Road and Hansville Road — slow ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
A gap in the middle of the tables would allow emergency vehicles to roll through, while maintaining a table in both lanes to deter civilian speeders. To keep regular traffic from using the center lane, flexible rubber posts could be installed that would be bowled over easily by ambulance bumpers but would make drivers of regular cars think twice before shooting the gap.
It’s a solution the combined committee will vet with fire departments and law enforcement.
“If they’ll sign off on it, we think it’s a good alternative,” enhancement committee member Ed Call said.
The committee will also study whether the county could grind down the speed tables to make them more consistent within speed zones and easier to navigate at the posted speed limits.
• Second, the committees agreed that — speed tables or not — more law enforcement is needed in Hansville. The group decided to ask the Kitsap Sheriff’s Office and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe whether more patrols are possible, and how more enforcement could be funded.
“Increased enforcement should not be optional,” removal committee member Frank Fox said. “We have a speeding problem out here.”
• The third consensus was that radar signs could be used as one alternative to the speed tables. The removal committee studied and supported the use of radar reader boards that would display the speed of vehicles as they passed, and flash if a vehicle was speeding.
“Instead of raising the ire of a community, they seem to be accepted in the community,” removal committee member Laurie Wiegenstein said. “Because of what’s been going on in this community, that’s very important to consider.”
The enhancement committee recommended taking radar a step further and installing traffic cameras that would automatically ticket speeding drivers. Those camera ticketing systems are illegal in unincorporated areas and it would take a change in state law for them to be installed in Hansville. Bauer said he has supported camera-ticketing legislation in the past.
Enhancement committee members said they would support the removal of speed tables if radar cameras were installed first. Removal committee members said they’d like to see the tables removed and radar signboards installed while the county lobbied for radar-ticketing camera legislation.
• Finally, the groups agreed the county should study road classifications in Hansville and update speed limits.
The four points of consensus weren’t easily reached as the committees dissected the others’ findings.
Fox said time will tell if the meetings can begin to heal the rift created by speed tables.
“It’s still early to say,” Fox said. “There are a lot of angry people.”
The anger has been simmering for three years.
Speed tables installed to slow speeders in the town created their own set of problems.
Many Hansville residents welcomed the tables and said they made roadways safer. Another group complained the tables were too severe and hard on vehicles, and spawning road rage.
Emotions boiled over in series of public meetings that led Bauer to form the two speed table committees to try to address major community concerns.
After Tuesday’s meeting, those committees are now joined as one group that will continue to research and refine speed table solutions. Those solutions will eventually be presented to the larger community for approval, but Bauer said it’s not yet clear what how that will take place. A final plan will be brought to the Board of County Commissioners.
In the end, Bauer said, Hansville residents will decide what speed table solutions to pursue, but the county will still have a duty to keep people safe.
“The issue of public safety is the one we can’t compromise,” Bauer said. “But I think there are different ways to accommodate that.”