ROSWELL, Ga. — Neighborhood speed humps may be on the way out in Roswell if the City Council approves a proposed policy and procedure update.

City leaders are set to vote Oct. 15 on which traffic calming measures are allowable in local neighborhoods.

At issue are vertical deflection devices, such as speed humps, which transportation staff says can interfere with emergency responders. City staff met with the mayor and City Council at the Sept. 25 Community Development and Transportation Committee to discuss the issue.

Speed humps are popular with neighborhood residents. Homeowner’s associations regularly request the devices to cut down on speeding in their area, said City Traffic Engineer Scott Brunner. To address this issue, the city has created two basic types of traffic-calming programs. 

The Residential Traffic Control Enhancement Program covers more passive, standardized devices to address speeding about 5-10 mph over the limit. 

To address greater speeds, the city has the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program which covers vehicles traveling 10 mph or more over the speed limit, and usually includes physical improvements to the roadway, including vertical deflection devices, such as speed humps, speed cushions and speed tables.

These devices, Brunner said, have caused serious, sometimes fatal issues.

The key concerns are that they interfere with emergency response efforts, have been attributed to serious and sometimes fatal motorcycle crashes, and can damage vehicles, he said.

“They interfere not only with emergency response time, but in the transport of critical patients,” Brunner said. “You don’t want to be doing CPR or running a central line and hit a speed hump or multiple humps.”

The devices can also be ineffective, actually cause cars to speed up between the devices, reduce property values and create unwanted noise, Brunner added.

The issue has come up because the city has recently adopted the International Fire Code as part of its Code of Ordinances. As a part of that document, traffic calming devices must be approved by the city’s fire marshal.

Roswell Fire Marshal Charles Vacca said he does not want vertical deflection devices installed on public roadways, and Roswell DOT staff agrees, according to Brunner.

The updated policy would also indicate other traffic calming measures the city can consider. Some of these measures — such as chicanes, textured pavements, street art or narrowing roadways — can be more effective than vertical deflection devices, Brunner said.

He added that Canton Street, which has some of the lowest speeds in the city, has some of these measures already in place without having to resort to speed humps.

With the new policy, the city would be responsible for half of the cost for any developed traffic calming measures. The second half of the bill would be footed by a neighborhood group or association requesting the measure. 

Brunner said the policy update would affect only about a handful of existing vertical deflection devices in local neighborhoods. The city would work with the fire marshal to determine what they want to do with them, he said.

Transportation Director Muhammad Rauf said the existing devices may be grandfathered in unless the Fire Department advocates otherwise.

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