Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 4:30 PM

Traffic Calming Underway on Airport Heights Drive

Curb extensions

How can we reduce speeds and increase safety on our streets?

The City gets numerous requests to look at traffic concerns throughout the City. A common concern is school zones, where there are lots of people both on foot and driving.

City planners and engineers use a variety of tools to modify existing streets to improve safety. These tools include roundabouts, speed bumps, and curb extensions. At Roncalli Elementary there are many children on the sidewalks and crossing the street. There have been numerous complaints about vehicle speed and dangerous driving in this area. The City is installing curb extensions, also called "bump outs" on Airport Heights Drive to help lower speeds and reduce the chance of collisions in this area.

What is a curb extension?
A curb extension moves the curb from the edge of the street closer to the middle of the street. The new location for the curb creates an "extension", or a "bump out", into the street that narrows the driving lanes. This physical and visual narrowing of the street communicates to drivers that lower speeds and more caution are needed.

How will the curb extension help?
The changes are intentionally making the street narrow at this section. When complete the street will be wide enough for two vehicles to comfortably pass each other, but no wider. This will lead to several benefits:

  • Drivers tend to slow down for narrow sections, which will help lower speeds in front of the school.
  • The crosswalk will be much shorter, which means that kids will be in the street for less time.
  • The area at the side of the street where people wait to cross will be more in line with a drivers field of vision. This will make the crossing guard and kids more visible to drivers that are approaching the crosswalk.
  • The narrow crossing will make it so that it would be very difficult for a driver to pass another car that is stopped for the crosswalk.
  • Corners at the curb extension will be tighter which means that drivers will need to slow down to make their turns.

What about large vehicles like fire trucks, garbage trucks and buses?
The new driving lanes are wide enough for all vehicles that normally navigate City streets. Large vehicles will need to use more of the street to turn on to Airport Heights Drive from MacBeth Drive or from the school parking lot. These vehicles may take a little longer than normal to make their turn but will be able to do so. However, there are very few large vehicles that make these turns on a typical day so the impact will be very small.

Where can I find out more about traffic calming?
This is one of many projects happening throughout the City to address traffic concerns. For more details on what can and is being done to calm traffic around school zones, read the article on page 17 of the Fall City Guide, or read FAQs about traffic calming on this website.