Prairie Village set to reopen traffic calming program

This speed table on 70th Terrace in Prairie Village was the result of a neighborhood process under the city's traffic calming program.
This speed table on 70th Terrace in Prairie Village was the result of a neighborhood process under the city’s traffic calming program.

A narrow vote on Monday paved the way for the city of Prairie Village to again allow residents to request the city consider installing speed tables and other measures designed to reduce traffic in their neighborhoods.

First launched in 2006, Prairie Village’s traffic calming program was designed to give residents a way to address concerns about increased traffic on their residential streets. Through the program, residents can petition the city to consider installing a traffic calming measure, like speed tables or radar speed signs. If an applicant can get at least 30 percent of the homeowners in the impacted area to sign on in approval of traffic calming, the city will initiate a formal study of what measure might help reduce traffic in the area.

Since its inception, the program has led to the installation of speed tables on nine residential streets. But as the city faced a financial squeeze among the pressures of the financial downturn, it elected to suspend the program in 2010.

At Monday’s city council meeting, councilors voted 6-5 to reopen the program.

Ward 2’s Ruth Hopkins opposed the measure, saying she believed the speed tables were already too prevalent in the city and that the guidelines to qualify for a speed calming measure were too low.

“You’re going to be amazed how many people want them,” she said. “[The guidelines] are very arbitrary. Unless you’re a major street, you’re going to qualify.”

Ward 3 councilor Eric Mikkelson, who lives on a street that had speed tables installed as a result of the traffic calming program, said he believed the demand for the measures was proof of their effectiveness.

“Speed tables have been a very positive, successful transformation in my neighborhood,” he said. “The fact that everybody is choosing them is evidence that we should be keeping them in our tool box.”

Hopkins, along with councilors Steve Noll, Andrew Wang, Ted Odell and Terrence Gallagher voted against the measure.

With the addition of $25,000 in the 2014 budget year, the program now has approximately $90,000 in funds available for traffic calming projects. Prairie Village Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft said the average cost of a traffic calming project — including a traffic study, design and installation — is $15,000 to $20,000.