HANSVILLE, Wash. – For more than six years, the tiny town of Hansville, which sits atop the Kitsap Peninsula, has remained deeply divided by a literal bump in the road.
In 2007, the county installed 10 speed tables – which are like speed humps but longer and flatter – throughout Hansville.
For neighbors who live along Hood Canal Drive, which has four speed tables, they were needed to slow down drivers racing down their streets.
“I could not get across the street before the speed tables were put in,” said Emma Jean Hemingway. “They have made a great deal of difference.”
Before the tables were installed, several cars took a corner too fast and ended up in Mary Heacock’s yard. One even landed on the corner of her house.
“He hit going over 100 miles an hour – and flying,” she said. “[The tables] made a huge difference.”
But to some, they have slowed down drivers too much.
“We were promised, originally when they put these in, that we’d be able to go over them at the speed limit,” said Carol Wood. “We don’t go over them at the speed limit for the most part.”
Wood does not think speeding was ever that big of a problem, arguing that the tables should be removed.
“The majority hate them,” she said.
In fact, she feels the tables are the larger danger. So does Hugh Tucker, a retired Los Angeles Fire Department battalion chief, who thinks the humps force fire trucks to slow down too much when responding to calls.
“If your house is on fire and there’s nobody there to rescue you or go in and rescue someone, that’s an eternity,” he argued.
But North Kitsap Fire Chief Dan Smith said the speed tables have had no significant impact on response times.
It is just one of many disagreements still dividing the town.
“Nobody likes to go over them, but they’re accepted,” said Dody Solaas, who pushed hard for the speed tables.
“Remove the speed tables,” Wood countered. “That’s the solution. And return Hansville to what it was when I moved here in 1999.”
After years of discussions and meetings, the debate has been reignited again. Rob Gelder, the third county commissioner to tackle the issue, recently initiated a traffic study for Hansville. The study found that speeds have dropped where the tables were installed, but it also found that four tables were not appropriate for their neighborhood and they are too high.
Gelder’s solution is to shave them down by an inch, something that angers both sides.
“I think it’s a ridiculous waste of money,” speed-table supporter Solaas said.
“That’s not sufficient,” speed-table opponent Wood said.
Gelder thinks that might be a sign that his solution is a good compromise.
“Basically if no one’s satisfied, you may have somehow settled upon the middle ground,” he said.
But it is hard to say if anything will ever get this divided town over the hump.