Please Note: Due to budgetary constraints, the Residential Traffic Calming Program has been suspended indefinitely.
Specific safety issues and concerns should still, however, still be reported to the City.
Traffic Calming Defined
The Institute of Transporation Engineers (ITE), an international association of transporation professinals, provides the following definition for traffic calming:
"Traffic calming is the combination of mainly physical measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicle use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for non-motorized street users."
Traffic Calming in West Sacramento
In July of 1998, the City of West Sacramento City Council adopted the Residential Traffic Calming Program (RTCP). This comprehensive program was created to address resident concerns about traffic issues in residential neighborhoods, particularly the issues of speeding and cut-through traffic. It validated a committment by the City to provide safe and livable neighborhoods. The program also helps to ensure that traffic calming solutions are applied in a consistent and equitable manner.
While concerns may be similar from neighborhood to neighborhood, solutions typically vary. The RTCP provides residents with an opportunity to work hand-in-hand with City staff to create and implement the best solutions for their particular neighborhood. There are choices to be considered, which include types of measures installed, location of measures, boundaries, etc. Each choice has its own cost, feasibility, and effectiveness issues.
Purposes for Traffic Calming
Reduction of traffic speeds and volumes are the most common reasons for the implementation of traffic calming measures. Other reasons for traffic calming include reducing cut-through traffic, traffic noise, collisions, truck traffic, and increasing pedestrian and bicycle safety.
A Comprehensive Approach to Traffic Calming
The City of West Sacramento practices the "3 E’s" approach to traffic calming:
- Education: Staff provides information to residents regarding available methods and tools to make educated decisions to properly address neighborhood traffic concerns.
- Enforcement: Through selective enforcement, the Police Department addresses targeted traffic issues.
- Engineering: Staff works directly with residents to identify concerns and solutions, and implement traffic calming strategies based on established and proven traffic engineering principles.
Staff works closely with residents to address problems and provide solutions consistent with neighborhood goals. The majority of residents in a neighborhood must validate their support for a traffic calming plan. The intent is to address traffic issues, while not shifting problems elsewhere.
Residential Traffic Calming Process
The City of West Sacramento's RTCP relies on significant community participation. Residents typically initiate traffic calming requests and must live with any modifications on a daily basis. Consequently, the City relies heavily on resident participation throughout the process. The development of a safe and effective traffic calming plan depends on the successful cooperation between residents and City staff. Implementation of a traffic calming plan is subject to available funding and resources.
Consideration and Prioritization
Upon receipt of the petition form, the City's Transportation Section will conduct an analysis to determine a neighborhood’s eligibility. Aside from the petition requirements, a neighborhood must meet certain criteria on affected streets to be eligible. These criteria are:
- Streets must be two-lane local residential or residential collector streets with a posted speed of 25 mph.
- A speeding problem validated by means of a speed survey showing an 85th percentile (critical) speed of at least 6 mph over the posted speed.
- City staff determines the presence of a significant amount of cut-through traffic.
- Vehicular volumes on the primary streets are between 500 and 2500 vehicles per day.
- The number of speed related accidents exceeds the number typically expected under normal conditions.
Staff may determine that the concerns expressed in the petition are either not in the realm of traffic calming or are safety issues that must be addressed immediately (i.e., trimming trees or shrubs, missing signing, etc.). In these cases, issues will be handled as normal citizen requests, outside of the traffic calming program.
Neighborhoods that meet initial screening criteria will be deemed eligible for participation in the traffic calming program and will be added to the priority list. Priority on the list is determined on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible neighborhoods willing to fully fund both the process and implementation of a traffic calming plan may be expedited at the discretion of the Director of Public Works and Community Development, provided the requirements and procedures described in “Privately Funded Traffic Calming Plans” are met.
The most effective traffic calming plans involve a comprehensive treatment to a designated neighborhood or area, rather than a specific block or street. Staff will work with the requestor to determine the most effective boundaries for a given neighborhood. Successful plans will help to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians, provide a greater sense of security, and increase neighborhood livability while not displacing problems to other parts of the neighborhood.
Neighborhood Kick-Off Meeting
When a neighborhood reaches the top of the priority list, staff will arrange a neighborhood kick-off meeting. Invitations will be sent to all residents within the designated neighborhood boundaries. At the meeting, staff will introduce the Residential Traffic Calming Program and present initial findings. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions of staff to gain a better understanding of the program’s advantages and disadvantages.
At the kick-off meeting, staff will ask for volunteers to form a Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee to work on behalf of the entire neighborhood. The size of the committee will vary, depending on the size of the neighborhood, but should be comprised of between 6 to 12 residents. Efforts will be made to form a committee that is representative of the whole neighborhood, with various ideas and viewpoints. The Traffic Calming Committee may decide to modify the affected neighborhood boundaries if desired.
Traffic Calming Committee Meetings
The ultimate goal and purpose of the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee will be to develop a neighborhood traffic calming plan for presentation to the neighborhood. This will be achieved through a series of committee meetings. The role of the committee is to review traffic issues and identify goals, and prepare and promote an acceptable traffic calming plan. Staff’s role is to serve as a technical resource, provide administrative support, administer the voting process, and implement the approved plan.
Neighborhood Open House
Once the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee develops a draft traffic calming plan, the plan will be presented to the neighborhood at an Open House. City staff will send out invitations to all affected households within the neighborhood. At the Open House, which is conducted by Traffic Calming Committee members, the proposed traffic calming plan and supplemental information are put on display. There are no formal, structured presentations or discussions. Residents may come and go as they please throughout the Open House session. The Traffic Calming Committee will be available to discuss their efforts and answer questions face-to-face with their neighbors. Committee members document feedback from residents and may meet after the Open House to incorporate these comments into the traffic calming plan, if necessary.
Within a few weeks after the Open House, the balloting process for approval of the traffic calming plan begins. City staff will prepare a ballot, which includes a copy of the final traffic claming plan, supplemental information on the traffic calming devices proposed, and a ballot form, which is returned to the City via U.S. Mail. The balloting period generally lasts from two to three weeks. Residents vote on the proposed plan in its entirety, and conditional ballots will not be accepted. Only one ballot per household will be accepted. Ballots may be completed by either tenants or property owners.
In order to be approved, at least 60% of the ballots received must be in favor of the proposed plan and a minimum of 15% of the ballots distributed must be returned. If the plan receives the required number of votes, city staff will take the necessary steps to implement the plan. Every effort will be made to implement the plan as soon as possible, however, if the plan exceeds available funding, implementation of the plan may be postponed until adequate funding is available.
If the proposed plan does not attain the required support, the neighborhood may either abandon their effort, or be added to the end of the active priority list to try again.
Installation of the Traffic Calming Devices
If approved by residents, and adequate funding is available, the proposed traffic calming plan will be scheduled for implementation. The City will endeavor to implement traffic calming plans in the most cost-efficient and timely manner available. In the event the cost of an approved plan exceeds available funding, the implementation of the plan will be delayed until adequate funding is available.
Failure to Make Progress
If city staff determines that a neighborhood and/or its Traffic Calming Committee is not making a good faith effort to progress through the process in a timely manner, or if neighborhood participation diminishes to ineffective levels, staff may terminate activity with the neighborhood and place them at the end of the priority list.
Privately Funded Traffic Calming Plans
Neighborhoods determined to be eligible for the RTCP and willing to fully fund the process and implementation of a traffic calming plan may be expedited, upon approval of the Director of Public Works and Community Development. This option is available only to those neighborhoods which have the ability to complete the process phase within 30 days upon initiation. The Traffic/Transportation Manager shall determine, based on staffing and resources, if a qualified neighborhood can complete the process phase within 30 days and to what extent a qualified neighborhood may be expedited.
If a qualified neighborhood is willing and able to fund the process and implementation, the neighborhood shall deposit adequate funds with the City (as determined by the Traffic/Transportation Manager) to cover the cost of staff time, resources and materials to complete the residential traffic calming process as prescribed. If a traffic calming plan is approved by the Traffic Committee, neighborhood representatives shall then be required to deposit adequate funds to cover the cost of implementation of the traffic calming plan. Implementation costs shall include the cost of administration, construction and inspection as determined by the Traffic/Transportation Manager.
If a neighborhood fails to deposit the proper funding for either the process or implementation within 30 days after notification by the City, the neighborhood will be considered non-responsive, and placed at their original position on the priority list with no recourse.
Removal of Traffic Calming Devices
The installation of approved traffic calming devices will remain permanent unless there is interest on the neighborhood’s part to remove any or all devices. Removal of traffic calming devices will only be considered after the devices have been in place for at least one year.
To request removal of a traffic control device, a completed “Residential Traffic Calming Program Petition Form” must be submitted to the City. The petition form must include descriptions of the specific device(s) and reasons for the request. A ballot explaining the request and expected impacts will be distributed to the residents of the designated neighborhood. For approval, 60% of the ballots returned must be in favor of the removal. If approved by the neighborhood, the device(s) will be removed when funding and other necessary resources are available.