Shawnee resident Mitch Livingston got frustrated by cars traveling down his residential street much faster than the 25 mph speed limit. So he started a Facebook page to get his neighbors talking about the problem.
Livingston has lived with his family on the corner of Monrovia and West 52nd Terrace, in an older part of the city, for about 13 years. He’s noticed that vehicles tend to pick up speed on the half mile stretch of Monrovia between 51st and 55th streets.
“I think people have caught on that it’s a very good street to make up time on,” he said.
Livingston purchased a radar gun to clock the speeding traffic. At times, he’s seen vehicles going as fast as 49 mph. And the distracted driving exasperates him even more. He has seen drivers vaping, staring at their cellphones, zipping past walkers and cyclists on the pavement because there are no sidewalks.
As a parent and former firefighter, the whole situation makes Livingston nervous.
“I feel I have a moral obligation… to say we’ve got an issue,” he said. “This problem needs fixed before somebody gets hurt or somebody gets killed.”
Livingston has uploaded a few videos of speeding traffic on his new Facebook page, Shawnee Monrovia is Unsafe.
Many streets on this side of the city lack curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Instead, they have ditches that serve as drainage (Shawnee resident Carol Mundy once called them “ankle breakers”), which means pedestrians are often walking and jogging alongside the traffic.
Potential solutions to speeding traffic
Between Aug. 22 and 25 this year, roughly 150 vehicles were clocked going 11 to 15 mph over the limit, according to a document from the Shawnee Police Department.
Sgt. Nick Shurmantine, traffic safety unit supervisor for the Shawnee Police Department, said the city doesn’t have complete traffic data on Monrovia. But his unit has noticed the problem.
“We’re trying to take that aggressive stance, but I’ve got several other streets in the city that have the same problem,” Shurmantine said. “The biggest thing right now is working with city hall on trying to figure out a solution to the issue.”
Livingston acknowledges that Shawnee police officers cannot patrol the street all the time; rather he hopes the city can install a traffic calming system.
“Even stop signs — I don’t think that will fix the problem either, but I do think it’ll slow cars down,” he said. “It’s a start, and if that doesn’t work, then let’s do something else.”
Recently, Livingston has been in touch with the city about potential solutions. But city staff have acknowledged it’s not that easy.
“By and large, people are going to drive at the speed which they feel comfortable driving at, regardless of the speed limit,” said Keving Manning, transportation manager for Shawnee. “This kind of concern is not unique to this street.”
Manning said traffic calming devices like speed bumps and tables will not fix the problem of deter speeding traffic on Monrovia.
“Those are viewed as being more effective than they actually are by the public,” Manning said of speed bumps. “They’ll slow traffic down at a point, but then traffic will speed up afterward to make up lost time.”
Stop signs won’t slow traffic down either; these are meant to direct traffic, not slow it down, Manning added. Plus, those same vehicles may end up taking Halsey one block over to avoid anything that slows them down, pushing the problem away but not solving it.
Manning said it could cost about $2 million to add sidewalks, curb and gutter, and stormwater infrastructure, but that section of Monrovia is not on the city’s list of capital improvement projects for the immediate future.