The 2015 street paving season brought seven new speed humps to Southampton Road in Somerton much to the surprise of many residents of the street and many motorists who drive it regularly. But some downsizing could be in store for 2016, according to the city’s district traffic engineer for the Northeast.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Somerton Civic Association on June 14, District Traffic Engineer Nicholas Cinciruk said that the Streets Department is floating an idea to remove three of the seven speed humps on Southampton between Roosevelt Boulevard and Endicott Street.
The proposal is a response to the large amount of criticism that last year’s installation drew from local folks, primarily on social media (specifically, the SCA’s Facebook page), although opinions on the traffic control devices have been sharply divided among those who like them and those who don’t.
SCA President Seth Kaplan reported that an “unscientific” online poll revealed a roughly 50–50 split between the two camps. The downsizing is viewed as a potential compromise, Kaplan said, but the plan has not been formally adopted. The idea is to remove the hump closest to the Boulevard, a second one closest to Endicott and a third between Arbours Lane and Carter Road, according to Cinciruk. Two humps will remain in front of the Arbours development, with two others remaining west of Carter Road.
The reconfiguration, if adopted, would be completed “by the end of the paving season” in late summer or early fall, Cinciruk said.
Online and in previous SCA meetings, local folks have offered a variety of criticisms and justifications for the humps. Neighbors have long complained about speeders on Southampton, as well as motorists who don’t obey posted stop signs. Homes line one side of the street, while the other side has ball fields and the parking lot of the Somerton Youth Organization. As a result, the area has a lot of pedestrians, including children.
Closer to the Boulevard, the Selp Help facility is on the south side of Southampton, while the Arbours entrance is on the north side. Residents of the Arbours say that exiting their development can be very difficult due to traffic. They have requested that stop signs or a traffic light be installed at the entrance of Arbours Lane.
Meanwhile, motorists have complained that the humps are too high and may damage their cars. The humps are designed so that vehicles can navigate them at the posted speed limit of 25 mph, but some folks claim that the devices do not meet the design specifications. Yet other critics complain that many motorists slow down or stop unnecessarily, resulting in excess traffic congestion.
Cinciruk acknowledged that the Streets Department has adopted new protocols for installing speed humps since the Southampton Road installation. Now, the department must survey residents of a proposed street during the planning process. The requirement applies to any new speed hump proposals.
During a series of votes on the topic at last week’s meeting, 52 SCA members said they support the idea to remove three humps, while 40 said they support the removal of all seven humps.
In other meeting business:
• A representative from the Philadelphia Quartett Club reported that redevelopment of the club’s golf course has been delayed due to discussions between a builder and City Councilman Brian O’Neill on the configuration of the proposed housing development.
The club, which faces a financial crisis, has agreed to allow contractor Rocco Cavallo to build 36 homes. The project would help the club pay its debts and continue as a viable private swimming pool and social organization. The plan requires legislation from City Council to permit street construction. O’Neill aide Alice Udovich said that the councilman wants to ensure that the new homes and infrastructure are of good quality.
Meanwhile, the Quartett Club official reported that a recent membership drive was a success and will allow the club to open its pool to members for the summer.
• SCA members voted unanimously to support a zoning variance that would allow the owner of a luxury car dealership to relocate to a property at Woodhaven Road and Evans Street. The dealership markets exclusively to the celebrities and the wealthy, offering high-priced vehicles from manufacturers such as Maserati and Tesla. The showroom will include up to about 30 cars. The business will service cars on-site, but the sales delivery department is based out of Lake Placid, New York.
• SCA members also approved the expenditure of up to $800 for the installation of American flags along Bustleton Avenue. A recent donation of $1,500 from Jack Bienenfeld allowed the civic group to purchase flags and hanging accessories. The flags will be affixed to utility poles from Red Lion Road north to the Bucks County line. ••