Approximately 100 frustrated neighbors who live on or near Emporia St. between MLK Jr. Blvd. and E. 26th Ave., just north of the Stanley Marketplace, are trying to mitigate large amounts of traffic flowing through their residential street. Eric Meer, one of the neighbors spearheading the effort, says, “If you want to get to Aurora from MLK, it doesn’t really matter what direction you’re coming from, it’s usually fastest to go down our street because we don’t have lights, and Google directs drivers that way.”
Volunteers from more than 20 households conducted an informal study from 7:15 to 9:45am and 3:30 to 6pm for one week and found that in one hour, an average of 120 cars drove the street in the morning and 192 in the evening. Dana Hoffman, Project Manager at the Department of Traffic and Infrastructure (DOTI), told them by email that they recognize Emporia St. carries more traffic, including large trucks and freight vehicles, than neighboring residential streets; however, two studies—one in April 2019 and one in November 2020—indicate the volume and speed of traffic is within the limits of safety. “[Our] data…showed that 85 percent of vehicles were traveling at or below 26mph (northbound) and at or below 24mph (southbound). The 85 percentile is the threshold we use (and is used nationally as a standard) to assess ‘generalized’ speeding. While you may get some flagrant speeding on occasion, DOTI is only able to address this more generalized form of speeding, [and we’ve] determined there is not a significant speeding issue on Emporia Street, and [we are] not able to take additional action at this time.”
Meer says there’s a problem with their study. “Traffic and speed has increased significantly since 2019, and their latest study was conducted in November of 2020 when people were still largely staying home due to COVID. Of course it’s not accurate.”
Meer says they’re not asking for much. “We think four speed humps would go a long way to fixing the problem.” According to the DOTI website, “DOTI does not install or utilize speed humps for traffic-calming [because] there are other measures that are more effective with fewer negative impacts to the community, including challenges for emergency vehicles, noise, cost to frequent users of the roadway, and street maintenance.” Meer asked DOTI to reconsider, citing “The City of Aurora installed two speed humps just across Montview, and it’s working quite well.” Meer says the neighbors will volunteer to pilot speed humps and even offered to pay part of the cost. Hoffman responded in an email that while the city is re-evaluating certain traffic-claiming treatments including the use of speed humps, any future programs will be piloted on streets with bikeways. Meer’s section of Emporia does not include a bikeway.
DOTI has taken some steps to remedy the situation including asking Stanley Marketplace drivers to find alternate routes, installing speed and weight-limit signs, and asking the DPD for a temporary driver-feedback sign, but Meer and his neighbors say those measures have done nothing to mitigate the issue. “Large trucks continue using our street despite the addition of a ‘No Vehicles Over 7,000 lbs’ sign,” says Meer. “Our police have tried to tackle this issue, but they can’t be here all the time (unlike a speed hump). Speeders tear down our street all hours of the day and night, making any kind of part-timed-manned patrol ineffective. We believe the ‘negative impacts’ referenced are negligible compared to the danger of the increased traffic, aggressive driving, and large trucks. A car with children and a parent inside was sideswiped last year. Just backing out of our driveways is a dangerous endeavor.”
“We’ve been patient for years,” says Meer, who fears the problem will be exacerbated with the completion of three new apartment complexes near the Stanley Marketplace. He and his neighbors are ready to take next steps including reaching out to City Councilman Chris Herndon and teaming up with an equally-frustrated Facebook group of neighbors who represent the 2800 blocks of Emporia Ct. and Emporia St.
Meer says they’re getting bigger, louder, and better organized, and he remains optimistic that they’ll find the one person who says, “Just give these people their speed humps. Make this problem go away.”