September 6


Temporary Traffic Calming Example

By Mike Spack

September 6, 2016

traffic safety, traffic safety plan

I live in the Sorenson Neighborhood of St. Louis Park, Minnesota.  We have a traditional grid street system that was built in the 1930’s.  Major construction on nearby highways have noticeably added traffic to our neighborhood over the last year and a half with the result of Brunswick Avenue becoming used more as a cut-through route.

Brunswick Avenue is a local north/south street and the residents living along it are upset about the increased/speeding traffic.  I was chatting with the St. Louis Park city engineer, Deb Heiser, and she brought up the issue with me since I walk through the neighborhood every day to go to work (and I’m a traffic engineer).

We have definitely seen surges in traffic in our neighborhood when construction staging changes on the adjacent highways.  And due to the layout of the street network, I am anticipating more cut through traffic on Brunswick Avenue when the nearby high school is back in session in September.

The neighbors want stop signs all over the neighborhood to calm the traffic.  I urged Deb to tread lightly because I haven’t come across any studies that draw a strong correlation with stop signs providing effective traffic calming.  The data I’ve seen over my career leads me to think speed humps and traffic circles are the only two measures that significantly lower speeds in neighborhoods.

I also urged Deb to avoid installing permanent fixtures for this temporary scenario.

We came up with the idea of installing temporary traffic circles with barrels and pylons.  Deb’s team installed two temporary traffic circles on Brunswick per these photos.  I’ve watched the intersections on several occasions and driven through them.  The city did a great job of making them visible and tight feeling.  Traffic definitely slows down to about 10 mph going through them.

Traffic circle in St. Louis Park neighborhood intersection.
Traffic circle in St. Louis Park neighborhood intersection.

I think more thought should be given to temporary traffic control in neighborhoods in conjunction to large highway projects.  Deb did a thorough job of reacting to the changed conditions and I urge you to consider temporary traffic circles if you have a similar situation.

A Complete Guide of Citizen Communications
A Complete Guide of Citizen Communications

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Check out our digital book The Engineer’s Guide to Citizen Traffic Requests.

  • Thanks for sharing this story.

    In my Edmonton, Alberta neighbourhood the City installed a “Street Lab” of traffic calming measures allowing residents to test them for about 10 days. Three were forms of curb extensions and one was a speed bump (meant to be a speed hump but the City did not have the right device on hand to try it). They were installed in locations unlikely to be used in our Community Traffic Management Plan so that residents could test them on their own merits.

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    Mike Spack

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