Petition asks for speed bump removal

Published 8:56 pm Friday, July 24, 2015

A local business, Side Porch Sandwiches, has started a petition to have the speed bump on Water Avenue in front of the historic St. James Hotel removed.

The speed bump was originally installed in December 2014, according to Dianne Smitherman, co-owner of Side Porch Sandwiches.

Although putting a speed bump there sounded like a good idea to her to begin with, Smitherman now wishes it would have never been installed.

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“At the time, it was a good idea because … there were a lot of other speeders, so we didn’t have an issue with it until it was installed,” Smitherman said. “What has happened, is a good idea has turned kind of sour.”

Smitherman said although the speed bump slows down most traffic, it causes other problems.

“Large trucks that go over there pound that speed bump and it sounds like an earthquake. I’ve had complaints from the owner of this building; my customers jump out of their chair,” Smitherman said. “It’s extremely loud. It shutters the floor.”

Smitherman also worries about the effect the vibrations are having on the buildings downtown.

“These buildings are almost 200 years old and the vibrations, I’m not sure they can take it,” Smitherman said. “This is a historical district, and these old buildings can not take these vibrations.”

Smitherman agrees that something needed to be done about people speeding on Water Avenue, but she hopes that a different approach can be taken, like lowering the height of the speed bump or putting a caution light there instead.

Back in January, the old Grumbles building on Water Avenue had part of a sidewall to collapse. Smitherman said she hired a structural engineer to examine the building. He told her that although the vibrations caused by a big truck driving over the speed bump did not cause the wall to collapse, that it “certainly didn’t help.”

Selma Police Chief William Riley said he does not believe the vibrations would cause a building to have structural issues, and he feels that the speed bump is vital to the safety of the people.

“I just find that hard to believe that a speed bump is causing older buildings to fall,” Riley said. “I’ve been to a lot of cities in this country … and I’ve seen a lot of speed bumps in old and new cities, and I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Riley said the idea of the speed bump came about when Selma Mayor George Evans asked the police department to look into the traffic on Water Avenue.

“He had a concern about the speeding vehicles going through there,” Riley said. “It’s very dangerous if somebody is speeding or somebody is trying to make a left onto Water Avenue from the side streets because you can’t see down the road because of the way vehicles are parked.”

Riley said the speed bumps have helped public safety and that’s what his department wants.