LONG BEACH - If you have driven down 5th St. NW faster than 10 miles-per-hour in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed something new - speed bumps.
"This is something new for Long Beach," said city councilman Ralph Moore, who lives on 5th St. "I don't think there are any other speed bumps in town."
Although it might appear that the bumps popped up overnight, the project has actually been in the works for over a year, and it was paid for by local residents, not the city of Long Beach.
Andrew Bielat has a vacation home on 5th St. and said watching his children playing near traffic gave him the idea to look into the possibility of having speed bumps installed. He said the traffic, especially during the summer months, had increased to an alarming extent, and something needed to be done.
"In the summer, people drive down here looking for a way to drive to the beach. When they see that our street is a dead end, they turn and drive faster to get out of there and find a better way to the beach," said Bielat. "But the worst offenders are the people that live here all year and aren't used to having more people around."
Bielat cites an incident that occurred recently when his daughter ran into the street after a loose basketball. A driver nearly hit the child after passing several home-made "children at play" signs.
Over a year ago, when Bielat started talking to his neighbors about the idea of speed bumps, and when he approached the city on the idea, he was told that he and his neighbors could have the bumps put in if they came up with the money to pay for the job. Bielat went back to his neighbors, collected money and started looking for the best price. Eventually, the four bumps were built by Lakeside Industries at a cost of $1,700.
Long Beach City Administrator Nabiel Shawa said the issue of speed bumps is a relatively new one, and in the future, speed bumps will be handled just like a request for a four-way stop. Shawa explained that if a group of residents were to come forward and request a sidewalk or a culvert across a drainage ditch, and they were willing to pay for it, the city would find time for the project. If that same group of residents wanted something that affected traffic, such as a four-way stop, they would need to present their case before the city council.
This would be done so all arguments could be heard, and the public would be given the chance to give input on the project before the council made its decision. The city council would also decide what specifications were needed. Something that did not happen in the case of the 5th St. project.
"I admit, someone fumbled the ball on this one," said Shawa. "The city council is going to discuss this matter. At this point there are three options for what will happen to those bumps. They will either stay as they are, all be taken out or some of them will be adjusted so they are uniform."