West side speed controls weighed

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The city is looking for ways to slow down traffic coming into the city on County Z/Summit Street.

The City Council’s Public Works and Utilities Committee addressed the issue Tuesday, deciding to seek help from the county and to take a step on their own.

Concerns over cars speeding down the hill into the city have been raised by residents of that area, through a petition to the council and comments at council meetings.

“We do need to do something, but I’m not sure what,” Alderman Greg Hildebrand commented.

City Administrator Brian Yerges and Public Works Director Cathy Austin presented several signage alternatives, including solar-powered flashing LED lights around a speed limit sign and radar signs that would display an oncoming driver’s speed.

While Hildebrand supported either or both of those alternatives, he also urged city officials to push for a lower speed limit on County Z before it enters the city limits.

“I’d like to see how far the county would go,” in reducing the speed limit on County Z in the town of Plymouth east of Country Aire Road to 35 mph.

Yerges noted that the city has been rebuffed in the past by county officials in seeking a lower speed limit along County Z.

Several committee members responded that the county has lowered speed limits on other county roads at or around the city’s perimeter, such as County PP on the city’s south side.

Yerges said the speed limit sign with blinking lights would cost around $1,500, while the radar display signs would be anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000.

Alderman Charles Hansen questioned how effective the different signs are and asked if there are any studies of their impact on speeding.

“For me, seeing that blinking 25 (mph speed limit sign) would be more likely to keep me going slower,” Committee chair Jim Sedlacek commented. “Having that blinking part I would see it sooner.”

Austin noted that the city does have one radar display sign in place, on Pleasant View Road south of Valley Road.

“One thing is with (that) sign is that it doesn’t have a strong enough radar so it doesn’t pick up (a passing car) until you’re almost on it,” she pointed out.

Several committee members wondered whether installing another radar display sign on Summit Street might not trigger requests for other such signs throughout the city.

“The problem is if you get one you’re going to have to get 10,” Mayor Donald Pohlman predicted. “Within a year you’re going to get 10 more me-too’s, especially if it works.”

Austin, in her report on the question, highlighted at least nine other locations either at highway entrances to the city or points where speed limits change on city streets where such signs could be installed.

“We need to be safety first, but at what cost,” Pohlman asked, noting that any sign purchases would have to be fit in the city’s budget.

The committee voted for the radar sign option, directing Austin to consult with the sign manufacturer to determine which sign would be most cost-effective.

Yerges noted that whatever recommendation Austin comes back with would have to be approved by both the committee and the full council.

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