By Steve Dunkelberger
Philip Davis lives in North Tacoma and witnesses cars racing up and down North Stevens Street on a daily basis. Concerned about the safety of other drivers, pedestrians and children, he hopes the city can find a way to slow cars down and even offers a plan to do that.
In a letter to Tacoma City Council and city staff, he outlined what he sees every day.
“We have an urgent safety issue on North Stevens Street that can be easily remedied,” he wrote in his letter last month and again earlier this month after his first letter failed to get prompt action. “North Stevens Street between North 30th and North 37th is heavily traveled and straight as an arrow, resulting in cars traveling at excessive speeds. This stretch of road is bracketed by two schools, Sherman Elementary and Mason Middle, which generate a lot of foot traffic. In addition, bus route 11 crosses at North 34th with stops on either side of Stevens.”
The mix of fast cars and children walking to school, Davis feels, is an accident waiting to happen, so he proposed a simple solution. The intersection of Stevens and North 34th has a blinking warning light that drivers all but ignore. His solution is to make the warning light a four-stop light as a way to at least segment the straight street that lead-footed drivers seem to find attractive.
“By bringing this issue to light and proposing a simple, cost-effective solution, I hope to achieve two mutually exclusive objectives: 1) Ensure the safety of our children as well as the safety of bus travelers, 2) Should the city not act, put paid to (i.e. destroy) any thought of a plausible deniability defense,” he wrote the city.
Change doesn’t come easy, however. City staff are looking at data in the neighborhood about average speeds, traffic patterns and other street-related data to develop possible solutions. That information could come soon and then solutions will bubble up from that work.
“We get inquiries about neighborhood traffic all the time,” City Traffic Engineer Josh Diekmann said. “People are interested in traffic all the time, and that’s a good thing.”
While news of a city study to look into the issue isn’t all that Davis wanted to hear, since he thinks the solution is obvious, he appreciates that the city is at least looking into the matter before someone gets hurt on that strip of North Stevens.
“At least we are getting some action, so that’s good news at this point,” Davis said. “It’s just such an easy fix.”