SMU roadway maintenance brings up driver concerns
Breanna Brink, Staff Writer
We all have to use it, and our cars all abuse it–the parking lots and roads of Saint Martin’s are an important part of our student lives. Every year, you can spot the hard-working maintenance crew re-painting the road lines, and making sure the greenery around campus is maintained. But, what if students still had concerns about other aspects of this campus’s maintenance?
Over the course of this new semester, several complaints have arisen about the state of the speed bumps around campus. Are they really speed bumps or are they just glorified walkways placed randomly along Baran Drive? These brick-topped, flat surfaces provide a safe walk from one side to the other, with a tad bit of elevation, and helps them get noticed by drivers. At the front of most of them, there is a sign indicating that they also serve as a crosswalk. The DMV states that “the primary objective of speed humps, and other traffic calming measures in general, is to improve the environment and safety of a roadway by physically controlling vehicle speeds. Another consequence of speed humps can also be a reduction in the amount of cut-through traffic.” With this intent in mind, it should be noted this is not how campus drivers feel.
Most students who were willing to discuss this matter were concerned for their safety during night time driving. This was also exaggerated by the kind of car they were driving. One student, Lexus Sparks, had an important experience with these particular speed bumps. “My first negative encounter with the speed bumps/walk ways was my first year attending Pack the Pavilion. As I was driving to the pavilion on Baran Drive, I went over one of the walk ways/speed bumps (in which I had not seen) and my car, a 2000 Chevy Impala, hit both its nose and back end, and popped part of my dash off . My sister and I freaked out and learned that we needed to take more caution and watch for speed bumps/walk ways.” This Chevy Impala is a long brand of car, which poses a risk that all small car owners are likely worried about as they drive over these walkways.
After her negative experience with the local speed bumps, Sparks went to discuss with public safety, who redirected her to maintenance. She was advised to call in her complaint, “when I called in about the speed bumps being so large and unmarked, they told me that there are signs to mark where the speed bumps are, and that the concrete was a special kind that could not be painted. They said that people just need to watch their speed going through campus, and it would not be a problem.” Yet, when discussing with a civics student, who wishes to remain anonymous, they reported that “the city of Lacey has guidelines they have to follow, even if it is within a campus, and that should regulate the kind of concrete they can use, which means that they should be able to still paint over them. Unless they were referring to the brickwork on top of the speed bumps.”
Sparks proceeded to point out that one of the Baran Drive speed bumps is unmarked, and poses the most threat to drivers during the night. It is the second one on Baran Drive coming off Abbey Way. At night time, it is hardly visible, and you only know to slow down if you have been here before. Anyone can see the scrape marks on the road from where people’s cars have bottomed out or scraped their noses. The proposed idea, from most who were willing to discuss this, was that some sort of reflective surface should be mounted to the front of these walkways. It would alert nighttime drivers to their presence, but not risk the bricks on top. This is not just a cosmetic problem, but a risk to vehicles and pedestrian safety. Of course, people shouldn’t speed, but depending on the brand of car you drive, hitting one of those bumps can still cause decent damage. Conclusively, students expressed that updating the speed bump warning signs would be greatly appreciated.