County Board OKs lower speed limits around lake

¦ Limit dropped to 35 mph on portions of County A, P on Elkhart Lake
by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – Speed limits on two county highways on either side of Elkhart Lake were lowered to 35 mph by the County Board at their Jan. 16 meeting.

The reductions of existing 45 mph limits are on County A from its intersection with County J/Royal and Ancient Drive north to Fromm Lane, and on County P from County JP south to about 450 feet south of Lakeside Park Road – including past the county boat landing.

The change was not without opposition, passing by a vote of 17-5. Supervisors Greg Weggeman, Thomas Epping, Fran Damp, Brian Hilbelink and Richard Bemis voted against the change and supervisors Steven Bauer, Libby Ogea and Brian Hoffmann were absent.

“A lot of times we’re coming up with these recommendations to reduce speed zones (and) I don’t feel they’re necessary,” Epping said. He contended many drivers are existing the speed limits already and wondered if a lower speed limit would have any effect.

“In this situation, enforceability as I perceive it is going to be very difficult,” Epping continued.

“The Transportation Committee made this recommendation based on the testimony that was given to us,” Supervisor Mark Winkel pointed out.

Highway Superintendent Bryan Olson explained that a study was conducted after a request from the public.

“The village of Elkhart Lake has a group of citizens trying to develop a walking trail around the lake and the walkers are asking for a safer environment,” Supervisor Al Bosman said.

Because much of the lakefront is private property and many owners are reluctant to allow public access, such a path might be directed along lakefront roads, Olson added.

“They are concerned about the speeds on these narrow roads and people walking on the roads,” Olson said.

“There is an element of safety here,” Supervisor Keith Abler, who represents the town of Rhine and the village of Elkhart Lake, stated.

“There are a lot more people coming to visit,” the lake and the village, Abler pointed out. “There’s a lot more walkers and a lot more walkers with children. Just for the matter of safety I will support this.”

Bosman added that because the roads in question have a historic designation as part of the original Road America course, and because of the configuration and location of the roads, they can not be modified to add bicycle or pedestrian lanes or paths.

“The Highway Department is unable to make any modifications on that roadway,” he summarized.

The board approved the acquisition of the Alliant Utility corridor along Weeden Creek Road from 18th Street to County OK in the town of Wilson for development of a recreational trail.

The original plan was for a trail from 12th Street to County OK, but the city of Sheboygan recently backed out of their commitment to develop the portion from 12th to 18th streets in the city.

Alliant remained interested in donating the unused utility corridor from 18th Street to County OK to the county at no cost and the board agreed to accept the donation. The county will be partnering with the town to develop the trail.

City supervisors Winkel and Roger Otten voted against the acquisition.

University of Wisconsin- Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller made a presentation to the board on the coming consolidation of UW campuses.

Under the plan, the two-year UW-Sheboygan would become a branch campus of the fouryear UW-Green Bay, along with UW-Manitowoc and UWMarinette.

“We are very excited in Green Bay about consolidation. We really think this is a historical opportunity to rethink higher education. We expect our goal will be to expand educational opportunities,” Miller stated.

“We do want to keep the identity of (each of) the campuses intact,” he assured the supervisors. While UW-Sheboygan is part of the UW system, Sheboygan owns and maintains the campus and its buildings.

“We have set up a process that involves all four campuses,” in the consolidation, expected to take place starting in July, Miller said. “We call this Project Coastal and it’s going pretty well.”

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