Village reduces speed limit on residential streets

Keep that lead foot in check when driving through town.

Already known for catching speeding drivers on main thoroughfares, the village is lowering the speed limit that vehicles can travel on residential streets.

All village-controlled streets will have a limit of 25 miles per hour, unless otherwise marked.

The change will not affect state and county roads such as Roosevelt, Cermak, Wolf and Mannheim roads or 31st Avenue.

For years, a melange of speed-limit signs advertising a variety of maximums have adorned the village's side streets -- ranging from 15-25 miles per hour.

When residents called police to request the signs be enforced, they were told there was a problem: The signs were unenforceable.

Without a specific local ordinance, state statute designates all local roadways -- outside of school zones -- as having a 30-miles-per-hour speed limit.

"It made us look bad to the public," said Police Chief Robert Smith. "They look at us and say, 'Why aren't you doing your job?' "

The signs were put up as a deterrent, Smith said.

Some larger village-owned streets, such as Westchester Boulevard and Canterbury Street, will be included in the speed-limit reduction, but there are no "hot spots" where cars regularly speed, Smith noted.

Whether the new speed limits will result in more tickets, and therefore more revenue, is unclear, Smith said.

"Should I put a squad on one block for two hours to catch one speeder? Is that an effective use of the police?" Smith asked, rhetorically.

Money generated from speeding tickets is not an issue, he added.

"We don't make a fortune off the traffic fines," Smith said. "If we never issue another speeding ticket because people are driving slower, that'd be fine."

However, he also doesn't mind the Police Department's reputation as strict speed-limit enforcers.

"If people think we're a speed trap, that's great," Smith said.

Ninety new speed-limit signs will be erected throughout the village in coming weeks, he added.

"It'll probably be more signs than there currently are," Smith said.