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Speeders are on the move on Highway 61
By Jessica Bock
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
WENTZVILLE — Increased traffic from continued growth in western St. Charles County has resulted in a speeding problem on Highway 61, especially between Highway P and Peine Road.
To combat those with the "pedal to the metal," officials have decided to place at least two speed radar signs in each direction of about a six-mile stretch of Highway 61 between Highway A and the county line. The signs will show the speed of the vehicle as it passes the sign and flash yellow when a motorist is going 5 mph over the posted limit of 65 mph. The sign flashes red when a driver goes 10 mph or more. The signs will go up sometime this spring, said Jim Gremaud, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The city of Wentzville had asked MoDOT for a reduction in the speed limit on that part of Highway 61, but Gremaud said studies have shown that simply changing the posted speed limit is an ineffective solution to speeding.
Officials hope to combine the flashing signs with stronger speed enforcement by Wentzville police. Even though the posted speed limit is 65 mph, most drivers are going 70 mph or more.
"There have been too many 'near miss' accidents in the area, and it's time to do something before someone is seriously injured — or worse, killed — in an accident," Wentzville Alderman Robert Smith said. "This area is growing rapidly, and traffic volumes will continue to increase."
Smith, who represents the city's ward in the problem area on Highway 61, met this month with fellow 3rd Ward Alderman John Luby, state Sen. Scott Rupp, state Rep. Bob Onder, developer Bill Luetkenhaus and Gremaud to discuss the problem and potential solutions.
About 35,000 vehicles travel on Highway 61 each day, Gremaud said. That represents about a 30 percent increase in the last 10 years, he said.
The development along Highway 61 also means more people are using side streets and getting on and off the highway, doing so without the benefit of an interchange, Gremaud said.
"The breaks in traffic are not as big and not as often, and it's becoming harder and harder to get in and out of traffic," Gremaud said. "It's high anxiety because if you make a mistake, it's going to be nasty and not just a fender-bender."
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