Small Town News


Council does the right thing on speed hump decision

Newcastle News of Newcastle, Washington

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Haochen Xu was just 4 years old.

He loved to read, had no trouble making friends and possessed a penchant for learning.

Haochen died June 27 at Harborview Medical Center, the day after a driver struck him as he and his mother tried to cross Newport Way Northwest in Issaquah.

Investigators say the driver was not speeding, but that is little consolation for a community that says the posted 40 mph speed limit along the road is way too high.

Changes are likely coming to the road, with Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler recommending a speed limit decrease. But this is after the worst case scenario became reality.

It took the death of a 4-year-old boy for real change to happen.

For years, neighbors on Newcastle's Southeast 75th Street corridor worried a similar scenario would play out on their roads.

They've witnessed too many close calls, too many near accidents and too many speeding vehicles to feel safe living outside their homes.

The neighborhood can breathe a sigh of relief now, after the Newcastle City Council moved staff to initiate the long-awaited installation of speed humps on the corridor.

The vote took some courage, especially after a staff presentation that outlined the reasons the corridor did not require speed humps.

Studies showed speeds on the street are not out of control. As a result, staff suggested other measures, such as wide-edge striping and initiation of a neighborhood speed watch program.

But those studies, which only measure speed over a specific time period, can't replace the experience of living on the street daily and witnessing something completely different.

It would have been easy for the council to take the numbers outlined in the study and send the neighbors packing without their desired speed humps. However, five of the six voting council members that night rightly looked past the data and into the worried faces of their constituents.

What happened in Issaquah must not happen in Newcastle, and neighbors believe the speed humps will save lives.

The council should be applauded for listening to their residents' concerns, even when the data showed something different.

At the same time, the neighbors of the Southeast 75th Street corridor deserve an equal amount of praise for their unceasing fight in this battle. Their street will be safer, because they demanded it of their elected officials.

It was a true case of the numbers saying one thing, and the heart saying another.

In the end, as Councilman John Dulcich said, voting for the speed humps was "the right thing to do."

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Original Publication Date: August 7, 2015

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