State 114 speed limit stands pat
DOT study says slower speeds won't increase safety
By Jim Collar
Post-Crescent staff writer
HARRISON — Transportation officials say reducing the speed limit on State 114 won't make the road safer for residents along the highway.
The state Department of Transportation began studying a stretch of the road between Calumet County N and State 55 in Sherwood after neighbors complained about excessive speeding there. The study, released last week, showed that motorists typically drive at or above the posted 55 mph limit. Crash rates, however, are low compared to other rural highways.
Joseph Mueller, of the Town of Harrison, presented the Calumet County Board with 300 signatures in May requesting a drop in the speed limit. Mueller, who mounted an unsuccessful write-in campaign for the Legislature in the September primary because he's upset about the issue, said something has to change.
"What's happened to courtesy and common sense?" he asked.
There are safety problems with the highway, but reducing the speed limit won't fix them, said Bob Schuurmans, a state traffic engineer. Reducing the limit actually could make the danger worse as some people obeyed the new limits but others continued to drive at or above 55 mph.
"Trying to legislate the speeds isn't going to help," Schuurmans said.
Traffic volume has increased, but the crash rate at the intersection of State 114 and State 55 is 0.64 crashes per million vehicles that go through the site, below the rate of 1.5 crashes per million that the Department of Transportation considers a problem.
Eventually, the state says, changes will be made to the highway. In 2010, roundabouts will be built at the Calumet County N and State 55 intersections. And a two-year study that begins in 2008 could recommend further changes. Next year, the DOT will collect data again on traffic volume on State 114.
Mueller said last week's study won't be the final word on the issue. He plans to continue to fight for changes on State 114.
Jim Collar can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 216, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.