More than a bump in the road?

April 24, 2008 6:09:30 PM PDT
Forget speed bumps. One Houston neighborhood is using speed cushions to slow down drivers who speed through their streets. If the cushions work, they could be coming to your neighborhood. Right now, only two areas -- Afton Oaks and Briargrove -- are equipped with them as part of a pilot program.

Living in Afton Oaks may have its benefits, but for some residents, it's hard to see them past the traffic.

"Very dangerous," said resident Chris Seager. "We have children and we have babies and all kinds of things coming back and forth here."

For years, residents there have been trying to curb cut through traffic by asking for speed bumps. But because traditional speed bumps slow down emergency vehicles, it's been shot down.

But now the city just might have found a way to appease residents and allow emergency crews to do their own jobs.

"It has already made such a difference," said Houston Councilmember Pam Holm.

They're called speed cushions, large strips of rubber placed on the ground to slow down traffic. Aside from being less destructive than asphalt, they're also designed to not impede emergency vehicles.

"The beauty of these humps is that they're split to the exact axle of our emergency vehicles," said Holm. "So that they're not losing preciouis time or damage to their vehicles."

Speed cushions are not new. They've been used in states like Massachusetts, Connecticut and Alabama. While the cost, we're told, is about $500 more than traditional devices, they do have the added benefit of being completely movable. Based on the results of the pilot study in Houston, the city may look to use them in other high traffic areas of town if they're proven affective.

"In particular for this particular area, and other areas around the city where neighborhoods and communities are concerned about speed, this could be a breakthrough," said Alvin Wright with the city of Houston public works department.

City officials say the pilot program should be completed within two weeks, at which time we'll know if the speed cushions will continue to be used in Afton Oaks and possibly throughout the city.

- Headlines at a glance


Load Comments