Jun 16, 2022 - News

Des Moines' east side residents say no to neighborhood speed bumps

A no speed bumps sign
A no speed bumps sign along East 24th Street. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Des Moines officials are considering adding "speed humps" along parts of East 23rd and East 24th Streets to slow traffic and discourage people from cutting through.

  • Yes, but: Some neighbors say the humps are a nuisance for homeowners and prefer stop signs instead.

How it started: In 2018, the local neighborhood association reached out to the city about slowing traffic between Guthrie and Jefferson/Washington avenues since they are frequently used by commuters.

  • More than 500 cars travel through the streets a day, which qualified the neighborhood for a traffic calming project, according to city officials. But then COVID hit, delaying the efforts until now.

Now, the city is asking for residents' input on constructing speed humps, which slow traffic to 10-15 mph. The current speed limit is 25 mph.

What they're saying: Tom Prine, 66, is a longtime resident of East 24th Street who doesn't want to see any speed humps.

  • He printed off yard signs and gave them to neighbors, who have them posted along the street.

His argument: As a retired Iowa Department of Transportation employee, he says stop signs work just as well at slowing traffic and don't require burdensome road construction or hurt low-riding cars.

"What the heck you're going to put bumps in the road for? Put a stop sign in there," he said.

The other side: Jeff Witte, the local neighborhood association president, said stop signs won't work because there still needs to be a flow of traffic.

He says drag racing in the area and fast commuters are becoming too big of a problem.

  • "The traffic is there. It's too straight, too smooth, too large. People don't know what residential streets are anymore," Witte said.

The big picture: Traffic speeds are a big topic in the metro. While crossing a busy thoroughfare, 14-year-old Ema Cardenas was killed in a hit-and-run as she was walking home from East High School last month.

What's next: City officials are going through survey results that residents sent in and are continuing to collect responses before making any decisions, according to John Davis, a traffic engineer.

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