South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Green Park approves speed humps in Ronnie Hills despite MFPD concerns

Green Park approves speed humps in Ronnie Hills despite MFPD concerns

The Green Park Board of Aldermen approved the deployment of four speed humps in the Ronnie Hills subdivision at its Nov. 20 meeting. The decision came after years of discussion and concern from residents about speeding and traffic safety in their neighborhood.

Residents of Ronnie Hills have frequently raised the issue of speeding in the area, though survey results from 2014, 2017, and 2023 suggest that speeding is not as common as perceived. Despite this, there have been notable instances of extreme speeding. Additionally, traffic violations such as rolling stop signs are more frequent, and the subdivision is often used as a shortcut by drivers, increasing traffic.

The city has experimented with various traffic calming measures, but these have not been significantly effective. The idea of speed humps had been discussed for some time, but implementation faced several challenges. Notably, speed humps are different from speed bumps – they are designed to be shorter in height but longer in width, targeting a speed range of 10 to 15 miles per hour, unlike speed bumps which aim for lower speeds.

One major concern about the speed humps came from Beishir Landscape Maintenance, which has been handling snow and leaf removal for Green Park since 2014. The company expressed concern that the speed humps might damage their equipment.

“When the plow hits (a speed hump), it’s designed to collapse, but if you hit it hard enough, you may have mechanical damage,” City Engineer Derrick Madej explained.

Another “hurdle” is the Mehlville Fire Protection District.

“Up until 1988, the district did not allow any type of speed calming device, which would include speed bumps and speed humps. In 1988 …we had a subdivision come to us. They presented speed bumps that would be a maximum of 2 inches high. The board at that time agreed to that, and that’s what our ordinance has been since 1988. Having higher speed bumps presents a couple of challenges,” Fire Marshal Ed Berkel told the board.

Some of these challenges include medics putting IVs in their patients while driving over the larger humps – which would be extremely difficult and dangerous, as well as the strain on the rear axles of the fire trucks that would occur from driving over the humps.

Thuston mentioned that he was told by contractors that a 2-and-a-half or 2-inch hump does not have enough resistance to speed compared to a 3 or 3-and-a-half-inch hump.

“That presents a significant challenge for us,” Berkel responded.

Ward 2 Alderman Tammy Witzig brought up the idea of having “grooved” humps so firetrucks and other emergency vehicles would be less affected, though she emphasized that she was no expert and would have to look into it.

“I’m not saying it will work, I’m just saying that it’s something to look into because other towns or cities have used it,” she said.

Witzig then asked if there was anything the board could do to get the maximum height changed from 2 inches to 3. Berkel responded that the aldermen would have to approach the MFPD Board of Directors, though City Attorney Paul Rost disagreed.

“We have control of our streets. If we want to put 3 inch, we can put 3 inch. Now, I’m not saying (we) shouldn’t work with the fire district to make sure it’s the best possible thing, but it has no effect over our streets.” Rost said.

The discussion then shifted to determining the number and location of the speed humps. Thuston suggested starting with four humps, two each on Patsy Drive and Marbob Drive, as they are the busiest streets. However, Witzig and fellow Ward 2 Alderman Ron Slattery argued for five humps.

A vote was held, resulting in the approval of four humps, despite Witzig and Slattery advocating for one more.

The topic was revisited at the board’s Dec. 18 meeting, with  MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks present.

“My job is to make sure that you understand the magnitude of whatever decision you choose,” Hendricks said. “Speed bumps, of course, (are) going to slow everybody down, but it’s also going to significantly increase our response times.”

He explained that before the meeting, he and some of his crew plotted the entire course where the board talked about putting the humps to analyze response times in both non-emergency and emergency situations. It was found that the response times increased by about 45 seconds when speed humps were present. He also raised concerns about potential damage to emergency equipment and patients in critical conditions in ambulances.

Hendricks proposed alternatives like removable saw horses or a-frame barricades for traffic calming. Thuston also mentioned the possibility of using speed cushions, a different type of traffic calming device.

Before wrapping up, Slattery and Witzig  mentioned that many of the residents of Ronnie Hills rarely see emergency vehicles driving through the subdivision.

“How many times a year is this going to create a problem?” Witzig asked.

“Every time we have to go down that street,” Hendricks responded. “It’s going to be really important to the family member that’s impacted.”

Next steps are unclear, though if construction does occur, the city will have to wait until spring for temperatures to rise.