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Study would precede another change in Old Stage Road speed limit

After reduction to 25 mph, residents want 35 mph restored

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 9:00 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 9:27 a.m. CST

The city may look at having a traffic study done to determine if the speed limit on Old Stage Road should be changed back to 35 mph.

The Street and Alley Committee of the Morris City Council discussed this issue again at its meeting Monday.

The city council voted at its June 4 meeting to change the speed limit from 35 to 25. The request was initiated by Hatcher's Woods resident Harry Benner, who was concerned with the safety of pedestrians.

But during an ensuing committee meeting, Hatcher's Woods resident Dave Hextell told the committee he felt the majority of the neighborhood did not want the reduction in the speed limit. He submitted a petition with 39 signatures of those wanting the speed at 35 mph.

The action for the speed limit change had already taken effect, so it is currently 25 mph, but the city sent surveys to the Hatcher's Woods residents and residents directly on Old Stage Road. Of the 155 surveys sent out, 17 came back in favor of leaving the speed limit 25 mph, 79 wanted it back at 35, and 59 surveys were not sent back to the city.

The speed limit has still not been changed from 25 mph. The speed limit was 35 mph from 2003 to 2012; prior to 2003, it was 25 mph.

With the recent discussion, the city has done more research and it may be that, when the city changed the speed limit in 2003 to 35 mph, they should have had a traffic study done first.

So it appears in order to change it back to 35 mph, a study would have to be done and would cost the city about $3,500, said City Engineer Guy Christensen.

The committee did not vote on whether to go forward with the study and will discuss it again at a future meeting.

Alderman Randy Larson and Mayor Dick Kopczick both said they have not received any complaints on the reduction of the speed limit, other than from Hextell.

"Personally, I don't think it is worth the money to do the study," said Larson.

Committee Chairman Drew Muffler, who has received complaints, said the city needs to remember that the surveys reflect people want it changed.

"It's OK, it's a smaller price to pay than someone dead on the road," responded Larson. "I think people will respect the fact we are trying to keep people safe."

Alderman Bill Martin said he has received about a half-dozen complaints about the slower limit.

Kopczick said he believes a bigger problem is overgrown bushes at the subdivision entrance blocking vision to get onto Old Stage Road. Muffler agreed and said the bushes were also commented on in the surveys. The city will be looking into whether the bushes are on private property or belong to the city.

In other business, the committee also discussed Morris Police Chief Brent Dite's request to have signs made warning people not to use their cell phones in area school zones and not to text and drive. The signs would be posted in Morris school zones.

The committee asked the mayor to look into more price options to see if the signs can be made locally. Dite gave them a price estimate of $335.20 for eight signs through a larger, out-of-town company.

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