Somerton residents ready to get over the hump

By William Kenny

Are you wondering if the city plans to remove some of those controversial speed humps on Southampton Road? And if so, when?

So are members of the Somerton Civic Association. Next month, they hope to get the full story straight from the source.

An official from the city’s Department of Streets has agreed to address the SCA at the group’s next monthly meeting on June 14, according to SCA President Seth Kaplan. The speed humps issue was among a diverse agenda of neighborhood topics discussed during the SCA’s May 10 meeting.

Early last July, the Streets Department installed seven speed humps along Southampton Road between Roosevelt Boulevard and Endicott Street. The humps are often called “speed bumps,” but that’s a misnomer. Speed humps — which are also known as cushions or tables - — are distinguishable by their lower profile and increased width. They rise three inches above street level and are about 10 feet wide, and are designed so that motorists must slow down to the posted speed limit to navigate them safely and comfortably. The are supposed to minimize the jolt that true speed bumps often generate.

Hundreds of motorists were not impressed.

Within days, dozens had placed angry calls to city offices about the devices, while many others expressed their displeasure on the SCA’s Facebook page and other social media. Some folks complained that the city didn’t consult neighbors before installing them. Others complained that the devices would damage their cars. Yet others complained that too many humps were installed. Whoever heard of seven in a row on a public street, no less, they queried.

Chief Traffic Engineer Richard Montanez explained how it all came about during an emergency SCA meeting last July 16. He said many neighbors had requested something be done about chronic speeding on Southampton Road. City Councilman Brian O’Neill endorsed the installation of speed humps there, as well as near the Somerton train station at Station Road and Edison Avenue. Montanez acknowledged that the city could’ve done more to involve residents in the approval process. Now, the city mandates that residents sign off on new humps before installation.

Montanez further offered to review the performance of the Southampton Road modifications and report back after one year. Next month’s SCA meeting will be that follow-up report. The session is open to the public and will start at 7 p.m. at Walker Lodge 306, 1290 Southampton Road.

In other SCA business:

• Members approved by a 43–12 vote a merchant’s application for a zoning variance at 10065 Sandmeyer Lane. The property is in an industrial park, but the applicant wants to use the property to store used cars that he markets for sale on the Internet. The proprietor, Dmytro Uliganets, will use the space for the storage of seven or eight cars and a business/sales office. There will be two workers, including the owner. There will be no outdoor display or sales, no repairs and no bodywork or painting on site. Customers will visit only by appointment during the daytime. The business will be closed on Sundays.

• Kaplan thanked City Councilman Brian O’Neill for donating a $1,000 activities fund grant to the civic association.

• Kaplan and SCA Treasurer Chris Bordelon reported that due to changes in the IRS reporting requirements several years ago, the civic association had inadvertently allowed its federal nonprofit status to lapse. But the officers have begun the process to apply for reinstatement.

• Two major donors are supporting the SCA’s effort to install American flags on utility poles along a 2.5-mile stretch of Bustleton Avenue, from Red Lion Road to the Bucks County line. The flags and brackets will be affixed to utility poles at a cost of $36.10 each. The SCA has funding to buy 42 flags and brackets, although some will be kept in reserve as replacements. The civic group has not mapped exact locations for each flag.

• Will Patterson, an aide to state Rep. Martina White, reported that his office has learned that an electronic controlled pedestrian crossing signal will be installed on Byberry Road near Proctor Road to help seniors from nearby apartment buildings in crossing the busy city street. Last December, a man was struck and killed while trying to cross at the location. The new signal will be activated when a pedestrian pushes a button. An installation date has not been determined.

• Nicholas Himebaugh, an aide to U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, invited residents to visit the congressman’s office at 2375 Woodward St., Suite 105, or call 215–335–3355 for help with government issues.

• Mike McAleer, an aide to state Sen. John Sabatina, thanked Somerton residents for voting on April 26 and helping Sabatina win the Democratic party nomination to retain his seat. ••