Speeders beware: Lakewood plans to slow Tillicum drivers

From his home office on Portland Avenue, Russell Albright II watches cars speed through the Tillicum neighborhood of Lakewood.

“I’m one of the few and ridiculous people that goes 25 miles per hour down my road,” Albright said. “People will come barreling behind me: honk, honk, honk and blare their horn.”

Albright often receives the “one finger salute” when he won’t budge above 25 mph, he said.

Despite requests from neighbors, Lakewood officials previously rejected adding speed humps or other deterrents along Portland Avenue. The most recent denial came last year when a city official said the number of speeders and the speeds they reached didn’t justify the cost of slowing people down.

Now the city is making a U-turn.

Transportation division manager Desiree Winkler met with Tillicum residents last week to tell them the city would take traffic-calming measures on a two-block stretch of Portland Avenue between North Thorne Lane and Maple Street.

The change comes after an August traffic study clocked 85 percent of cars driving seven miles per hour or more over the speed limit along the straightaway. A smaller percentage was going significantly faster.

The city is looking to add speed humps, digital radar signs or a traffic circle to slow people down.

“These physical measures are something to remind all these good people, ‘Oh yeah, you need to get your speed down a little bit,’” Winkler said.

People at a Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association meeting last week showed support for speed humps and two radar signs — one on the road into Tillicum and one on the road heading out, Winkler said.

Radar signs cost $15,000 and can be installed quickly and in any weather, she said. Speed humps range from $3,000 to $5,000 to build and are weather dependent.

Tillicum activist David Anderson is happy the city changed its position.

A year ago he questioned the city’s plans to spend the $100,000 it received from the Washington State Military Department to offset traffic impacts from the Camp Murray gate relocation.

Tillicum residents fought the gate relocation from 2010 to 2012. To address their concerns about Portland Avenue, the city installed a raised crosswalk at Maple Street.

Last spring the city proposed using $85,000 of the $100,000 to extend sidewalks on Union Avenue. The remaining $15,000 would be kept for Portland Avenue improvements.

Many residents felt all the money should be used on Portland Avenue.

“Reading between the lines, I think (city officials) have acknowledged that, A, there is a speeding problem, and B, that the mitigation money that had been set aside for traffic calming be used” on Portland Avenue, Anderson said.

The city still wants to extend sidewalks on Union but has put those plans on hold until another source of funding is available.

Winkler will return to Tillicum for an upcoming neighborhood association meeting to discuss the city’s plan for Portland Avenue.

For more information

About the proposal in Tillicum contact Desiree Winkler, transportation division manager, 253-983-7818 or email dwinkler@cityoflakewood.us.