Motorists detouring through the upper Rockwood neighborhood are finding it less than hospitable these days.
Grand Boulevard is closed for repaving, and city officials don’t want drivers to become accustomed to cutting through the upscale residential area.
Temporary traffic barriers are being installed on Garfield Road, Hatch, Arthur and Rhyolite streets to discourage commuters and speeders.
Signs reading “Local traffic only” are posted at entrances to the neighborhood. A radar-measured speed display is also parked in the area to tell motorists how fast they’re going.
To make sure drivers get the point, city police have posted a pair of motorcycle patrol officers in the neighborhood to write tickets.
“The whole point of it is discouraging people from cutting through this neighborhood,” said Phil Williams, manager of engineering services.
The barriers, signs and patrols are intended to make driving in the neighborhood inconvenient, Williams said. The city cannot tell people where they can drive, but it can make some routes difficult to use, he added.
Unfortunately, residents living in the area will have to put up with the barricades for at least three more weeks, Williams said.
Some residents living outside the Rockwood neighborhood are complaining the city is giving the Garfield Road area special treatment.
Williams said detouring through the Rockwood neighborhood has been a longstanding problem, and city officials don’t want it to grow any worse.
Earlier this week, the city put up wooden barricades, but those will be replaced with concrete barriers and barrels.
The intersection of Garfield Road where it meets 25th and 26th avenues has been divided with barriers. Motorists headed north on Garfield are forced to turn west onto 25th Avenue, and southbound drivers are forced to turn east onto 26th Avenue.
Williams described the barricades as “traffic calming devices.”
He said the city wants motorists to use Southeast Boulevard, Bernard Street and 14th Avenue, the designated arterials for detouring around Grand.
Grand is closed between 14th and 29th avenues through Sept. 16.
Several weeks ago, neighbors living in the Rockwood area met with city officials to talk about the potential for traffic problems during the Grand repaving.
Officials returned to a second meeting with the barrier ideas.
“They are doing a lot for us,” said Marilyn Akerhielm, who organized the neighborhood meetings.
When Grand closed on Monday, Akerhielm said she noticed an immediate increase in residential traffic near her home.
“They were just pouring in here from both directions,” she said.
City transportation officials appeared before the City Council Monday to tell the council the barricades would cost $17,000.
“We made an agreement with the neighborhood. Let’s get it done,” said Mayor Jack Geraghty, who was unhappy the heavier concrete barriers weren’t already in place.
“We should be able to deal with this. It’s a management responsibility and it should be taken care of,” Geraghty said.