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Committee seeks speed table solution

HANSVILLE — Hansville’s controversial speed tables aren’t likely to disappear, but a group of residents is studying ways to make them more palatable for drivers and friendlier to emergency vehicles.

The committee was assembled by County Commissioner Steve Bauer two years ago to look at ways of improving the asphalt speed tables. The county installed the tables in 2007, and they have been a point of contention in the North End community ever since.

In May, the group presented a long list of possible speed table alternatives and improvements. This summer, the committee has worked to narrow that list down to what the committee members determine to be the most practical.

Eventually, the committee will present its findings to the rest of the town. Based on the response, a proposal will be made to the county.

The group hoped increased law enforcement in Hansville could lessen the need for speed tables.

It nixed that idea after meeting with Sheriff Steve Boyer on July 15. The county doesn’t have enough officers to keep an ongoing presence in Hansville.

“It’s what we suspected, but we needed to hear it from them,” speed table committee member Carol Wood said at a July 26 meeting.

The Sheriff’s most important message was that residents, not law enforcement, would need to solve the angst over speed tables.

“This is a community problem, this is something you’ll have to get together and fix,” Wilson said.

With law enforcement off the table, the committee is focused on a few alternatives.

One is to bring in electronic signs that blink when drivers are speeding. The signs don’t produce tickets and rely on the conscience of the driver to slow down. They have proven effective in places like Bellevue and the Port of Illahee in Kitsap, according to the Sheriff’s office. Traffic cameras that automatically issue tickets to speeders are being tested in several Washington cities but aren’t legal statewide.

The committee is studying the addition of speed cushions — wide gaps in the speed tables — as a means of letting emergency vehicles roll through faster. The gaps would be guarded by rubber posts that would fold easily under the heavy bumpers of ambulances and firetrucks, but would deter most vehicles from entering.

While some Hansville residents are concerned, both the Sheriff’s office and North Kitsap Fire and Rescue say the effect of the tables on response times is negligible. The speed table committee expects to meet with North Kitsap Fire in coming weeks.

Re-engineering the tables to make them less abrupt is also an option. The county has been studying traffic speeds in Hansville and may consider changing the speed limits.

The speed table committee will begin working on its proposal for regrading the speed tables once the results of the traffic study are in.

The committee is posting its study materials to www.hansvillespeedtables.com. Comments can also be submitted through the site.

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