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City to stop traffic rather than slow it

Staff writer

City council backed away Monday from a proposal to lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour throughout all residential areas, opting instead to install stop signs on a temporary basis.

“Stop signs are the only way you’re going to see a true reduction in the speed,” councilwoman Melissa Mermis said.

A group of citizens brought concerns to the council at a June meeting, saying individuals exceeding the 30-mph speed limit — a state standard for residential areas — were endangering neighborhood children.

“Unfortunately the folklore is I can go five over, and they’ll give me three more,” administrator Roger Holter said.

Councilman Chad Adkins suggested giving citations to speeders.

“Whether it’s 20 or whether it’s 30, people speed until there’s something that deters them to not speed,” he said. “Usually that means getting into somebody’s wallet.”

Police chief Tyler Mermis said assistant chief Clinton Jeffrey wrote a recommendation to lower speed limits. However, police would also support installation of stop signs.

Jerry Kline suggested that the electronic radar device set up on Main St. be moved to certain intersections as a speed deterrent.

Putting the radar, which displays speed to drivers, in residential areas was ineffective, Tyler Mermis said, because no one was writing tickets to violators.

“I think, from our statistics down there, a lot of people were just trying to see how fast they could get their cars to go,” he said.

As police chief, Mermis has authority to install temporary traffic signs, including stops, wherever necessary.

Eventually council decided to go that direction rather than choose permanent sign locations, which requires passage of an ordinance.

Council members discussed which intersections were most dangerous. One of note was Freeborn and Weldon Sts.

“For some reason, from Weldon, they go barreling through there,” Jerry Dieter said. “I can see putting a stop sign there because somebody’s gonna get broadsided someday. I don’t know why the traffic goes through off of Weldon so fast.”

If temporary stop signs are effective in mitigating speeding, Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said, council could elect to install permanent signs at those locations.

“If we can get traffic to our better streets, that’s a positive,” he said. “Let’s see how that works. If that seems to be addressing the problem, we can come back and permanently locate those.”

Last modified Aug. 6, 2015

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