Kaysville man crusades to thwart dangerous shortcut traffic

Friday , July 18, 2014 - 3:42 PM

KAYSVILLE — Blake Webster is more than just a one-man detour trying to divert speedy, high-volume through traffic from a notorious short-cut residential road.

The 59-year-old Kaysville resident, who works in the global IT industry, mostly from home, says he is about saving lives, particularly the 39 minor children with whom he shares Barnes Drive.

“Trust me, I’m not doing this for myself. My neighbors want solutions,” Webster said, who to date has successfully lobbied the Kaysville City Council to place for the first time in a residential area a temporary hard rubber speed bump on his street; post warning “bump” signs; and conduct a second traffic volume study of the road. He is trying to get “cut through” motorists to stop using Barnes Drive as their own personal thoroughfare.

The measures, approved by the city council, are all part of the “step” process they contend is required in working toward a solution.

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It will be that step process in which the council will heavily rely in the event the city eventually has to close off one end or the other of Barnes Drive in preventing it from being a short-cut thoroughfare.

Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt said the steps are necessary to avoid the city setting a precedent with the street.

The problem is, the 1,500-foot residential roadway offers a short cut for motorists looking to travel to and from Flint Street to 200 North, which accesses Interstate 15.

For Webster, the fight is an emotional one, although to date he has been able to keep his overt emotions out of it, speaking more to the city council as a polished politician working out a peace treaty, and not an IT tech infuriated by the behavior of some motorists.

As a teen, Webster said, he witnessed a young boy being hit and killed by a vehicle while attempting to cross 200 North in Kaysville.

The boy had been attending an outdoor party at what was then Webster’s home, when he attempted to run back across the street to his own home, and was struck by a car.

“Emotionally, those things stay with you,” Webster said, who uses the painful memory to continue to put his full effort into his Barnes Drive crusade.

Webster said his fear is one day one of the children in the neighborhood will be seriously injured or possibly killed due to the heavy volume of traffic currently using the residential road.

On June 17, 1,097 vehicles traveled the length of Barnes Drive over a 24-hour period. The traffic count was conducted by Kaysville City Engineer Andy Thompson, the same man responsible for ordering the hard-rubber speed bump that is now part of the road.

“My street is only 1,500 feet long and we’re dealing with that many vehicle trips,” said Webster, who on three occasions has appeared before the city council requesting on the behalf of his neighborhood to close off his street by placing a barricade at Flint Street and Barnes Drive.

To some, Webster’s request may seem rash.

One neighbor did recently remove one of the temporary warning bump signs the city posted on the street earlier this week, and placed it at the end of his driveway, said Webster, a longtime resident of Kaysville.

But before he could respond and put the bump sign back, another one of his neighbors picked up the sign and put it back for him, Webster said.

The majority of those living in the neighborhood appear to have Webster’s back.

“Our little ones wander from house to house,” said Peter Matthews, father of five and Webster’s neighbor.

Matthews said his concern is for those children who attempt to cross Barnes Drive, and he is grateful the city leaders recognize the problem.

But parent Jamie Pew, who has lived in the Barnes Drive neighborhood for nine years, says based on the near-misses she has witnessed with her own children attempting to cross the road, she can’t help but wonder if the city couldn’t move a little faster in resolving the issue.

“When someone’s life is in danger, is it fast enough?” Pew said. Although, Pew said, she was surprised to see the city install the temporary speed bump in a timely manner. She said she just isn’t sure what effect the speed bump is going to have, where for the last few days she still continues to see vehicles speed down their residential road with a posted speed limit of 25 mph.

“The bigger goal is to have it (Barnes Drive) no longer be a thoroughfare,” Pew said.

Webster wants something done before school starts, when traffic increases.

“We could all learn a great lesson from Blake Webster and his dedication and commitment to an issue,” Hiatt said.

That being said, the city wants to look at all the possible solutions available before granting the residents request to close the road at one end, particularly where that could set a precedent for other residents unhappy with the volume or speed of traffic on their streets.

“(Webster) has surely proven himself diligent, but also recognizes the value and importance of communicating in a respectful and collaborative way,” Hiatt said. “It’s appreciated by the city council when residents like (Webster) come with honest facts and reasonable suggestions and ideas on how to address them.”

“I’m not looking for accolades. I’m looking for results,” Webster said.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.

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