Summit Street radar sign right first step

THE NEXT STEP MIGHT be speed bumps, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Responding to concerns raised by neighborhood residents, the City Council last week approved the installation of a radar speed sign on Summit Street at the city’s western boundary.

The sign will display an oncoming vehicle’s speed as it enters the city from County Z, where the speed limit changes from 55 mph on the county highway to 25 mph on the city street.

That kind of transition from one speed limit to a lower one is always a concern and a challenge, but it is especially so at that location.

That concern was raised to city officials via a petition from residents in that part of the city, as well as in public comments during a council meeting late last year.

While such speed limit transitions are a concern throughout the city, it is a special problem along Summit Street given the topography as Summit Street drops from the highest point in the city down into the heart of the city, passing a number of homes – many with young children.

City Administrator Brian Yerges acknowledged that in his memo to the City Council accompanying the request to purchase and install the radar sign, noting that Summit Street is “one of the bigger areas of concern.”

The council agreed to spend a little over $4,000 to purchase and install the sign. Because the issue was raised after the council had approved the 2018 city budget, there were not funds available in the budget to cover the expenditure.

The council wisely opted to utilize money in the city’s contingency fund to cover the cost of the sign so it can be installed as soon as possible, rather than wait to include it in next year’s budget.

That’s kind of prompt response to a reasonable request from constituents is commendable.

There was also good news from Yerges that the county Highway Department has agreed to a speed study this year along that stretch of highway in relation to the speed limit on County Z – which is currently 55 mph all the way to the city limits.

From the west city limits it is literally a rapid descent down the hill to the heart of the city – a descent many drivers seem incapable of managing while also reducing their speed by more than half.

Lowering the speed limit on County Z as it approaches the city limits, to 45 mph or even 35 mph, would seem to be a logical next step. Making it less of a change in speed from one side of the city boundary to the other would hopefully make it easier for drivers to achieve the lower, safer speed city streets demand.

Obviously, neither the radar sign nor a possible lower speed limit on County Z, separately or together, would be a total solution to the problem.

That solution lies with each and every driver who enters the city from the west on County Z/Summit Street. They need to be cognizant of the need to drive safely and obey the speed limit in a city residential area.

But any tools that help in that recognition and obedience – be it the radar sign or a lower speed limit on County Z – can only help to make things at least a little bit better and a little bit safer.

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