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Speed humps still on tap for N. Birch Street


Weather the culprit for the late start to an already years-old project

Almost missed during the swearing-in pageantry at the January 4 Canby City Council meeting was an exchange between Councilor Traci Hensley and City Administrator Rick Robinson.

Hensley said she's often asked when the city will begin the installation of the N. Birch Street speed humps. The speed humps were the subject of much debate, research and analysis by the city's Traffic Safety Commission, public works departments and emergency crews, as well as public scrutiny last summer when the council approved the installation of the speed humps on N. Birch Street.

The original plan was to install six speed humps last fall, each gradually rising to three-inches high and 15 inches wide, but now Robinson said the final tally will be four and that construction cannot begin until the weather permits.

"We have to have some dry weather and warmer weather as well," Robinson said. "What's going to happen is the contractor will scrap and make rough the areas where the humps will be placed. The weather has to be warm enough when they bring the hot mix — warm enough that they can shape it while it's still hot enough to shape because we have very specific specifications for speed humps in Canby. They are still scheduled for installation when the weather permits."

Residents of N. Birch Street, also referred to locally by some as "The North Canby Bypass," long have complained about commuters coming from points south in the morning and north in the evening attempting to bypass traffic on Highway 99E through Canby by using Knights Bridge Road to cut through N. Birch Street to get to NW Territorial Road — and vice-versa in the evenings.

A public hearing on the issue was held during the May 18 city council meeting, and N. Birch Street residents testified both for and against the humps — so-called rather than bumps because they use a parabolic design, meaning the hump goes from flat up to a maximum of three-inches high then back to flat.

The most recent traffic study completed on Birch was in 2013 when the Northwoods subdivision was being constructed, and it shows why so many homeowners, but not all, are upset — the average daily traffic now totaled 1,435 northbound drivers and 1,937 heading southbound during the morning and evening rush hours — that's 98,000 cars per month, or 1,176,000 per year, which is a 13 percent increase from 2009, or about 11,000 cars per month, the study found.

Additionally, 85 percent of all drivers average eight miles per hour more than the posted 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, the study found.

N. Birch Street is classified as a neighborhood route in the city's 2010 Transportation System Plan (TSP), and was a candidate for speed humps in that study. The Traffic Safety Commission and the city have talked extensively about many solutions with the Canby Fire District and the Canby Police Department; representatives of both CFD and CPD have stated in the public record they approve of the design and say the humps will not inhibit emergency response vehicles.