Speed bump a casualty of road race

A “sleeping policeman” finally was roused from his slumber as part of a $12,000 to $14,000 severance this week.

The officer had been laying down on the job for the last 20 years or so, but his mere presence gave pause to motorists cruising up and down the hillside of North College Drive.

A sleeping policeman is another name for a speed bump because it helps enforce the speed limit, said Jim Sheppard, one of the original North College Drive neighbors who petitioned the city for the speed bump sometime in the early 1990s or late 1980s.

On Tuesday, city workers removed the bump above Aquarius Place in preparation for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The reason was safety: The racing cyclists will be descending the hillside at close to 45 miles per hour, said Levi Lloyd, the city’s director of streets.

The lower speed bump was left alone because it is at a straighter section of road.

“The race committee felt that the professional racers could deal with that speed bump,” Lloyd said.

Motorists on the hillside road that curves toward Florida Road often ignored the 25 mph speed limit, much to the annoyance of the residents, Sheppard said.

“When you go down the hill, you let her go. When you go up the hill, you step on the gas,” Sheppard said. “We happen to be in the middle.”

So Durango commissioned its first-ever speed bumps.

“A reflection of the success is that I understand the city has a queue of neighborhoods that are asking for more (speed bumps),” Sheppard said.

But years ago, it was a controversial decision because not everyone appreciates a bump in the road.

Sheppard acknowledged that some motorists might have showed their spite by honking in front of his house, but “it wasn’t more than one or two people who were soreheads, and every town has them.”

Sponsorship money is covering the $12,000 to $14,000 cost associated with removing the bump, Lloyd said.

The job “was a day’s worth of work,” he said. “There was 10 tons of asphalt to patch back where the speed bump was.”

Because it will be replaced within a week of the Aug. 20 race, Sheppard is not complaining. He understands that sacrifices must be made for the race.

“It’s part of being a citizen of Durango, isn’t it?”

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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