The installation of two speed “humps” in West Jefferson came as news to the village council, inciting disagreement between members and the mayor as to the necessity and practicality of the measure.
Mayor Scott Hockenbery authorized the $3,000 project to slow speeders on Fellows Avenue by installing speed humps, or raised asphalt bumps an estimated 10 feet in length, according to Public Service Director Harold Walker. Council members were not consulted prior to the decision being made.
“It’s a known area to be a problem and it’s in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic,” Hockenbery said at the May 5 council meeting.
“People seem to speed up to try and make the light at Frey and Fellow. Going the other direction, people are often traveling too fast to make the turn going north and end up in oncoming traffic.”
The area borders Garrette Park, where many pedestrians gather for events such as the July Fourth Street Fest and the West Jefferson Community Association’s Ox Roast and Christmas in the Park.
Council Vice President Ron Garver dis-agreed, opposing speed humps as a means of controlling speeding in the village.
“If you put speed (humps) in one area, you’ll have to put them all over,” he said, suggesting increased police surveillance of Fellows Avenue and other problem areas as an alternative to the speed humps.
When asked his opinion, Sergeant Randy Sibbalds of the West Jefferson Police Department declined to comment.
To avoid the same situation in the future, council President Darlene Steele asked Hockenbery to inform council before making similar decisions. She added that she appreciates the safety measure.
“It’s more proactive than reactive,” Steele said.
Hockenbery intends to monitor the efficacy of the speed humps on Fellows Avenue and further investigate other high-risk areas as potential candidates for speed humps.
“There are other areas in the village that may have safety concerns and need addressed. My administration is going to look at each and every one these, study it, and see that the best solution is put in place,” Hockenbery said.
In other action, council approved the appropriation of $50,000 from the State Highway Fund to cover preliminary costs of the village’s Main Street reconstruction project.
The funds will cover some of the costs associated with an environmental review and right-of-way acquisitions, preliminary expenses that could not be included in grants and no-interest loans the village has already secured.
The total out-of-pocket cost to the village will be $69,850. The difference will be made up as revenues come in from gasoline and license plate taxes. Hocken-bery noted that the State Highway Fund does not draw from income taxes.