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Neighborhood Programs

Traffic Calming

Neighborhood Traffic Calming helps ensure safe traffic conditions on Tacoma’s neighborhood streets. We respond to resident’s questions and concerns regarding speeding, traffic safety, traffic signs, and similar issues. We also administer the city’s neighborhood traffic circle program, and the arterial and non-arterial traffic calming programs.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a series of Frequently Asked Questions about Traffic Calming in neighborhoods.


Who has the right-of-way at an intersection?

Under State law, when two vehicles approach an intersection with no stop signs at about the same time, the driver on the left shall always yield to the driver on the right. This is also true for intersections that have a traffic circle or all-way stops.


Can we install stop signs to slow traffic?

Stop signs are intended to help drivers and pedestrians determine who has the right-of-way at an intersection. Stop signs are installed where accidents or other data show that drivers are not observing the right-of-way rule under State law. Tacoma, like many jurisdictions, does not install stop signs to slow traffic. Stop signs in inappropriate places could result in more drivers running stop signs, speeding through neighboring streets, pollution, and noise. Too many stop signs could cause motorists to ignore the right-of-way rule or some drivers may simply choose to ignore the stop sign. In addition, providing stop signs at all residential intersections could be very expensive to maintain and a liability.


Wouldn't additional speed limit signs help to slow traffic?

Speed limit signs alone don’t necessarily slow traffic. In Tacoma, the speed limit on residential streets is 25 mph unless otherwise posted. Drivers are expected to know and obey the speed limit. The City does not install speed limit signs on non-arterial streets. Speed limit signs are installed on arterial streets where the speed limit changes, and at periodic intervals along the street.

I have heard that neighborhoods can check out radar units to track speeding. How do I get one?

The City has a program called Neighborhood Speed Watch which provides neighborhoods with the opportunity to use a radar gun to clock vehicles as they drive through the neighborhood. The Police Department takes this information and sends warning letters to the people who were reported driving in excess of five miles an hour over the speed limit. This information also helps us identify whether or not police enforcement is needed in the area or a more comprehensive speed study is needed. To participate, contact Traffic Engineering via email.  Due to the Safe Start orders, the program is on hold until safe distribution and operation of the radar units can be determined.

What can our neighborhood do about people who speed on our street?

Speeding is a concern for many of our residential neighborhoods, and addressing this concern requires active participation by residents working in a strong partnership with Tacoma. Together, we seek ways to influence the generally reasonable driver to travel on your street in a safe and prudent manner. It is always done in a phased approach starting with ensuring that Tacoma and the community have a clear and common understanding of the concern. We then seek ways of educating the drivers that use the street, whether they live in your neighborhood or elsewhere, and directing enforcement where it will have the most benefit. As we move through the process, we might identify relatively simple measures (such as reconfiguring parking on your street or adding bike lanes), or develop traffic calming projects that are both feasible and fundable. To begin the process for evaluating if a speed hump or similar device is appropriate, fill out the Citizen Action Request Form.  Currently, speed studies are on hold until traffic patterns normalize. Staff will monitor when students return in to in-person learning as a gauge of normalized traffic. n In the meantime, encourage neighbors to drive at or just below the speed limit, increase neighborhood activity aka "eyes on the street", park on-street if feasible, and plant trees.


What is the purpose of a traffic circle, and how do I get one installed on my street?

The City installs traffic circles in an effort to reduce fail-to-yield accidents at residential intersections.  Currently, 125 traffic circles have been constructed.  During the past fifteen years, the intersections where traffic circles have been constructed have experienced a reduction of accidents by almost 62% and injuries by over 68%.  Although many people believe traffic circles also help in reducing traffic speed and volume, our studies have not indicated any significant reductions.  In some areas, single vehicle collisions with the traffic circle may occur.  Reported collisions helps us to manage our resources and justify improvements.  The criteria at this time is 4 or more reported collisions in the past 3 years. This criteria is based on funding availability. To begin the process for evaluating if a traffic circle is appropriate, fill out the Citizen Action Request Form.

A traffic circle near us needs the landscaping maintained, who do we call?

Traffic circle landscaping is not maintained by the city, but rather by community volunteers. Those volunteers do their best at keeping the landscaping in good condition. However, if you feel a traffic circle is becoming overgrown, or if you are interested in volunteering to help maintain an existing traffic circle call our Adopt-a-Spot program at (253) 591-5634 and we will try to get in touch with the volunteer and/or include you in our volunteer program.

My street is getting repaved, can they install speed humps?

Traffic calming devices such as speed humps may not be the best answer to a speeding problem. Traffic calming devices have advantages and disadvantages. Selecting the device that is most appropriate for the street is a collaborative process. Additionally, high demand and limited funding require Tacoma to prioritize those streets where speeding would have the biggest impact and demonstrates a problem.  Typically, residential street paving is from a fund that is dedicated to street repair only. 

What about installing Children at Play signs?

The City of Tacoma does not install these signs. We want drivers to be aware that children could be present on or near any street. We also don’t want either children or their parents to feel that such signs make children safer. It is important to note that in jurisdictions where such signs have been installed, they were shown to have no effect in reducing collisions or vehicle speeds.

There is speeding on our alley, what can I do?

The speed limit on alleys is 25 MPH. Tacoma does not install speed limit signs in alleys and installs traffic calming in very few alleys. Residents are welcome to participate in the Traffic Calming Program if they believe vehicles are speeding in their alley.

Contact Information

Please email us with questions.