ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — For the last several days, Google has reported a round-the-clock traffic jam inside the Wetherbee Lakes subdivision.
There hasn’t been a herd of cars parading through the streets – if anything, there are fewer, as neighboring Wetherbee Elementary School enjoys its spring break.
Instead, drivers have been forced to slow to navigate a series of speed bumps that they said appeared overnight.
“I knew about it because I parked my car on the location where [workers] put one of them in, and they woke me up at 7 a.m. to move my car,” Josh Ruckert said.
The installation, however, has been as bumpy as, well, the bumps themselves.
First, there’s the color: the black of newly poured asphalt. No signs or warning strips exist, meaning the dozen-or-so strips are almost impossible to see at night.
“I missed this one right behind us and it bottomed out my car,” Ruckert said.
Secondly, and more importantly, the speed bumps aren’t supposed to be there.
Despite the fact that the neighborhood streets are owned and maintained by the county, the first time county staff heard about them was when a resident emailed them to complain.
“The speed bumps are not authorized and not County installed,” Public Works staff member Frank Yokiel wrote in an internal email. “We will need a contact at the HOA. My suspicion is that the HOA installed them.”
Sure enough, the HOA notified some residents the day the speed bumps were set to appear.
However, adding speed bumps to a public road involves more than hiring a contractor. The HOA must seek permission from the county, which must do a traffic study to see if the bumps are warranted.
The residents of the neighborhood must also vote to put them in place, according to a county flyer, and the vote must pass with a two-thirds majority. Residents said a vote was taken years ago and failed by a wide margin.
Since none of those steps were taken this time around, staff members said the bumps will need to be ripped out and have already sent a letter to the HOA demanding steps be taken to do it.
HOA officials did not respond to questions about why they installed the bumps without asking and how much it cost to do the work. They also didn’t say how much it would cost to rip them out or when that work would be completed.
However, some residents, worrying about speeding, said they hoped another effort would be made.
“My daughter comes here every day because we take care of the children,” Paula Idoy said. “When the people are speeding too fast, we have to be careful.”
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