The Issue: Residents in Southeast’s Benning Ridge neighborhood are a bit befuddled about speed humps that seem to have magically appeared on a number of streets.  They may be necessary to calm traffic, but some are concerned the city’s not going through the proper channels—getting permission from residents, conducting a traffic study—before installation.

According to a D.C. Department of Transportation application (2002), requests for a traffic calming study must be initiated by the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission with the approval of 35 percent of households on the block. DDOT conducts the study and renders its verdict: to calm or not to calm.

Where Did They Come From?: Ben Thomas, who sits on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7E, says the commission has approved speed humps in only two locations: the 1100 block of 46th Street SE and the 1100 block of 44th Place SE.  But other humps, in the 700 block of Burns Street SE and the 4200 to the 4500 block of Hillside Road SE, have since popped up, leaving him scratching his head. “Speed humps are necessary, but they need the proper approval. No studies are being done. They just seem to appear overnight,” says Thomas. He adds that some residents have concerns that the humps are too high—DDOT says they are supposed to be 3-4 inches high and 10-14 feet across.

Sloooooow Dooooown: John Lisle, of DDOT, says the city is not required to have the commission’s approval for installation of a traffic-calming device. “We do pledge and give the residents an opportunity to voice their concerns. We attend community meetings and give great weigh to what the residents say, but we’re not necessarily required to have an ANC Commission approval.”

Despite the obstacle course feel of her neighborhood, Benning Ridge resident Shante’ Moore likes the humps. “It was annoying to me at first, but it slowed me down,” she told City Desk. “I’m all for it, especially since there are a lot of kids that live in this neighborhood.”

What’s Next?: There’s not much else to do but put on the brakes.

Photograph by Tiffany Browne

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