Drivers on South Ash Avenue in Kuna have a speeding problem.
Two recent studies by the Ada County Highway District found that half of drivers on South Ash, between West Curtner Street and West King Road in Kuna, drive over the speed limit.
The speed studies — two weeklong surveys, one in May and one in June — found that 50.3% of cars were speeding (1 mph or more) on South Ash, which is designated a local road by the highway district and has a posted speed limit of 25 mph.
Residents say speeding there has been a problem for a long time, but it’s gotten worse in recent years.
“It’s getting kind of ridiculous,” said Chuck Royer, 62, who has lived on South Ash for 28 years.
Royer said the number of speeding vehicles — not just cars and trucks but dirt bikes, as well — has increased since new houses were built south of his home.
Silver Falls, a subdivision between South Ash and South Ten Mile Road, has added about 60 three- and four-bedroom houses within the last five years.
“More subdivisions, more traffic, more people,” Royer said. “Wherever those people are coming from, they’re bringing their driving habits with them.”
“More people are driving down the roads,” said Marlene Koser, 69, another South Ash resident. “You put one and one together, it makes two.”
South Ash residents’ complaints led the Ada County Sheriff’s Office — which provides contract police services to the city of Kuna — to ask the highway district to conduct a speed study. Ada County Highway District manages the road.
The two studies divided South Ash in half: one study covered the northern half of the road, a more densely populated residential section, and the other study covered the southern half, a rural section.
South Ash, which spans about a mile, is one of three local roads that connects West Avalon Street, a major collector road, to West King Road, a two-lane rural road. At peak time (5 p.m.), as many as 67 cars per hour use South Ash, according to one of the studies.
Taken together, the studies show 2,792 of the 5,550 cars surveyed went over the speed limit. About 7% drove 10 mph or more over the limit.
Taken separately, the northern end had four times as many vehicles — due to the higher number of homes there. But the southern section had a much higher percentage of speeders.
On the southern half, more than two thirds, 68%, of cars traveled over the speed limit. And 28% traveled 10 mph or more over the limit. That’s compared to 46% speeders, 2% of whom traveled 10 mph or more over, on the northern half of the road.
Both halves of South Ash have a 25 mph speed limit sign, and both have one lane in each direction. It’s the rural surroundings on the southern end that might make the difference.
“It looks like a rural road, and drivers sort of click into that,” said Ross Oyen, Ada County Highway District’s traffic engineering supervisor.
South Ash residents want to see something done about the speeding. Royer and his neighbor, Tom Dietrich, worry a child will be hit by a car.
The street is home to many children, who often play outside, they said. And most of South Ash does not have sidewalks.
“I pray that nobody ever gets hit, but, God, I question it sometimes,” said Dietrich, 63, who has lived on South Ash since 1991.
Royer and Dietrich sometimes sit outside their homes and watch vehicles speed by. On one occasion, Royer threw his shoe at a speeding car.
“It’s upsetting that they can’t slow down a little bit,” Dietrich said. “It’s 25 out there, but I don’t see no need in doing 40.”
Dietrich hopes the highway district will install speed bumps on South Ash.
That’s what the speed studies were meant to test: whether South Ash meets the district’s minimum requirements for speed control measures.
There are five data points that a 25-mph local road, such as South Ash, must meet during a speed study for the highway district to invest in traffic calming.
First, it must be at least 750-feet long. Both halves of South Ash met that requirement.
Next, the speed study data must show the road has at least 400 average daily users and at least 100 users in the highest recorded peak hour.
The final two criteria are measured speeds: the 85th percentile (the speed reached by 85% of drivers) must be 30 mph or more and the 95th percentile (the speed reached by 95% of drivers) must be 35 mph or more.
The southern end of South Ash met the district’s speeding criteria, but it didn’t meet the traffic volume criteria. And the northern end met the average daily volume requirement but fell short of the peak-hour volume and speed minimums.
Therefore, neither end of the road qualified for speed control measures. Instead, Ada County Highway District shared the data with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
“One of the things we routinely do is share our data with the local police agency,” Oyen said.
Law enforcement might help reduce speeds there, he said.
“If you can get people’s attention, that can be beneficial,” Oyen said.
Kuna Police Chief Jon McDaniel said the highway district does a great job informing law enforcement of excessive speeding areas, like South Ash. Additionally, the sheriff’s office takes citizen complaints seriously, he said.
McDaniel said the sheriff’s office has put South Ash high on the priority list for directed patrols, or assigned areas for deputies to cover that don’t come from dispatch. There are 15 such areas in Kuna that deputies patrol for speeding, McDaniel said.
“The solution is working it most of the time,” he said.
Deputies will be on South Ash in increased numbers with radar equipment, issuing warnings or citations.