Goat Hill Residents Motivate City Into Action Over Speeding 1

This map highlights the Goat Hill neighborhood where residents are upset about speeding cars.

by Ralph Nichols

Burien city officials recently decided on a combination of solutions designed to alleviate safety concerns of local residents by mitigating speeding through the Goat Hill neighborhood over the ridge west of Ambaum Boulevard at SW 130th Street.

Goat Hill residents have complained for over a year about motorists speeding along the corridor that, heading west, follows SW 130th as it curves into 16th Avenue SW to SW 131st Street, then goes to Shorewood Drive where it continues in a northwesterly direction through the subdivision.

Repeated complaints and requests for action from the neighborhood led to a meeting about the speeding problem on May 25 between city staff, Burien police and community representatives. Following that discussion, City Manager Mike Martin invited Goat Hill residents to submit a list of their preferred solutions, and told them the city then would respond by selecting which of those suggestions it would adopt.

From the Goat Hill residents’ recommendations, the city has agreed to:Goat Hill Residents Motivate City Into Action Over Speeding 2

  • Relocate speed limit signs to more visible locations, in particular the sign closest to Ambaum as motorists head west. But the city will not reduce the speed limit, as also requested, which will remain 25 mph throughout the neighborhood.
  • Make SW 131st Street and Shorewood Drive a new three-way stop sign intersection that will include crosswalks.
  • Install new warning signs that indicate the presence of bicycles, pedestrians and children. The city will provide standard signs available within King County. The “Driveways” warning sign near 14th Avenue SW will be replaced by one of these signs.
  • Add striping that “narrows” the roadway through sharp corners that lead into Shorewood.
  • Paint fake speed bumps at various locations on the corridor through the neighborhood, and remove rumble strips on SW 130th Street and 14th Avenue SW.
  • Provide a radar speed trailer to the neighborhood once the improvements are made.

The city did not consider recommendations to reduce the speed limit to 15 mph, to install additional stop signs and temporary or permanent speed bumps, and to build a traffic roundabout in the arterial.

A traffic study conducted for the city last October found that the mean speed of vehicles at five of six check points along the Goat Hill/Shorewood Drive route was “less than 25 mph with the exception of location 2 (the curve where SW 131st turns into 16th Ave SW) where the mean speed is 26 mph in the northbound direction and 29 mph in the southbound direction….

“All of the locations are shown to have less than 15 percent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit with the exception of the southbound direction of location 2. At this location 35 percent of the vehicles are exceeding the speed limit by at least 5 mph. When considering the posted advisory speed of 20 mph at this location, 84 percent of the vehicles are exceeding the speed limit by at least 5 mph.”

The study concluded that “location 2 is the only location where speeding is of potential concern.” Collision data since 2000 revealed that only one accident had been reported on the roadways studied, which “does not indicate a significant safety problem exists.”

It concluded, “Speeding was only found to be an issue at one location along the corridor. Specifically, vehicles traveling in a southbound direction ten to travel faster most likely due to the combination of a downhill grade, a super elevated (slightly banked) curve, and lack of conflict points that make it comfortable for drivers to travel fast.” Basic speed mitigation measures were recommended.

Goat Hill residents, however, expressed concerns about the traffic study, including the location of speed sensors and the time it was conducted – in generally cool and/or wet weather conditions.

“Specific data points in the study show that speeding does occur and include a significant number of cars going between 30 and 35 mph and a group of speeders going between 36 and 40 mph,” they noted.

Following the May meeting, the neighborhood group thanked city staff and police for their interest and input, but added they “remain concerned that the city does not believe we have a speeding problem in our neighborhood in sharp contrast to what we observe every day, particularly during nicer weather.”

Also at the May meeting, Martin told the Goat Hill neighbors, “I respect the fact the neighborhood has an issue” and has continued to bring it to the city’s attention. Now, he said, “let us try … to get this done.”

Burien Police Sgt. Henry McLauchlan complimented the neighborhood group for their proactive approach – and for putting their money where their mouth is. “I have never been in a situation where a community group offered to spend its own money” to solve a local problem, he noted. “I applaud you.”