Speed humps, miniature roundabouts and even a new bridge in south Grand Forks were just a few of the solutions proposed for residents of the historic Near Southside Neighborhood in Grand Forks.
The problem? Through traffic driving too fast on Reeves Drive, a residential road in the neighborhood many drivers take as an alternative to Belmont Road when they want to reach Grand Forks.
Research prepared for the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization in 2018 has shown the road gets on average 2,235 cars a day, with most people driving 5 miles higher than the posted speed limit of 25 mph. Between 9 and 14 percent of those cars were driving even faster.
"Currently with the three bridges so close together there is a great deal of through traffic, coming from East Grand Forks, using the Near Southside Neighborhood as a way to get to the rest of the city and especially the south end," City Council member Bret Weber told neighbors Wednesday night. Weber and council member Jeannie Mock, whose districts include the neighborhood, were both present with council President Dana Sande and several city staff members at a meeting last week.
Neighbors have spent years sharing their concerns of speeding and crashes with the city, and recently they've begun acting on their worries through several neighborhood meetings. The recent gathering was the group's first at City Hall.
In 2016, Grand Forks Police conducted a study and found using their own tracking devices most people were following the speed limit on Reeves.
"Neighbors weren't convinced because they live there and perceive that the traffic was going faster than the speed limit," MPO Executive Director Earl Haugen said on Thursday. Using more inconspicuous tracking devices, the MPO found people were driving much faster.
The MPO used tracking devices to find out how much people were speeding. They also tracked all of the neighborhood's crashes as recorded by the state Department of Transportation from 2014 to 2016. Over those two years, the Near Southside had 155 total crashes, 26 percent of which were with parked cars.
Eight of the parked car crashes were alcohol-related and 12 were hit and runs, the MPO report said. Most parked car crashes happened between midnight and 4 a.m.
Speed is currently not a big factor to crashes in the Near Southside neighborhood, according to the report, but a recent uptick in speed-related crashes indicates it could be a larger issue in the future.
The study also tracked how many crashes occurred at nine intersections throughout the neighborhood. The study referred to "problem intersections" at Belmont Road and Fourth Avenue South, Reeves Drive and Fourth Avenue South, Belmont Road and Fifth/Diversion.
As neighbors and staff discussed solutions, City Engineer Al Grasser said he leaned more toward the idea of speed tables.
Speed tables, which are longer and lower than speed humps, are elongated ramps engineers would install midblock. They reduce traffic speeds by raising entire wheelbases of vehicles.
On average, the tables are 3 to 3.5 inches high and 22 feet long.
Grasser estimated on Friday the tables could cost approximately $10,000 each. Engineering will need to begin designing the projects before there is a more exact cost, he said.
"Unfortunately, for the mini roundabouts we'd basically have to reconstruct the entire area of the roundabout, so some of those might be more like $350,000," Grasser said. "I guess I'd be cautious on mini roundabouts at this point. I think speed tables seem to be very low cost with a high likelihood of success."
The city will need more direction from Grand Forks City Council members before it can decide how to pay for any installations on or near Reeves Drive, Grasser said, but he recommended the city be cautious with what it constructs.
"It's a matter of, 'Do we want to make sure that it's effective before we put in $100,000 worth of something?'" Grasser said. "Or maybe we should test it at the $10,000 level first, to make sure it's doing what we want to do."