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City calls on state to lower Hwy. 32 speed limit PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 19:04

Port council responds to subdivision residents who say turning onto increasingly busy thoroughfare is dangerous

    Responding to concerns from residents of the Misty Ridge subdivision that the 55 mph speed limit makes it dangerous to enter and exit their neighborhood, the Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to slow down the traffic.
    Aldermen agreed to ask the state Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit to 45 mph until just south of Misty Ridge Lane, following a recommendation from the city’s Traffic Safety Committee.
    Residents told aldermen how dangerous it can be trying to leave their subdivision, noting that if they turn south, they risk being rear-ended by a car cresting the hill behind them as they try to get up to speed.
    If they turn north, they have to cross two lanes of traffic without seeing who’s coming over the hill in order to get to the northbound lanes, they said, and then they risk northbound vehicles coming over a hill and striking them.
    “It’s been relatively safe, but it’s getting more hazardous,” Matt Panhans, 2307 Willow Pond Way, said.
    Not only has traffic on Highway 32 increased, but the entrance and exit to the subdivision is hidden in a valley between hills, he said.
    “You have about 10 seconds to make a decision — is it clear? Can you get out?” Panhans said. “Reducing the speed limit would get you a couple more seconds. This is something we should do.”
    Cathy Hanson, who earlier this year presented the council with a petition seeking the reduced speed limit, noted that the change would have a minimal impact on those driving on Highway 32 while drastically increasing safety.
    “I don’t think it’s a big sacrifice on anyone’s part,” she said.
    Steve Bennett, 1801Windrush Dr., noted that the subdivision is home to many young families, but these youngsters will soon get their driver’s licenses.
    “To start to drive and come onto this intersection is not safe,” he said. “The last thing we need is to have a tragedy.”
    Police Chief Kevin Hingiss, a member of the Traffic Safety Commission, noted that there haven’t been many accidents there. However, he said, many people speed through the area.
    “I think a lot of the points brought up here tonight are legitimate,” Hingiss said.
    Ald. Doug Biggs, who lives in the Misty Ridge subdivision, said traffic on Highway 32 has increased over time and makes it difficult for residents, particularly those turning left, to cross the intersection safely.
    That’s especially true in winter, when slush and snow make the roadway slippery, he said.
    “Particularly in winter it is very, very dangerous,” Biggs said. “And people aren’t coming down the hill (on Highway 32) at 45 mph. They’re blasting down that hill going southbound.”
    When the Traffic Safety Committee considered the residents’ request, committee member and Ald. John Sigwart said his wife will not turn to the north when leaving the subdivision, instead turning south and making a U-turn to head back into the city.
    The situation will only get worse as more houses are built in the subdivision, committee members noted, since Misty Ridge Lane is the only way in or out of the neighborhood.
    Even if a second exit is created as roads from the adjoining NewPort Vista subdivision are connected to those in Misty Ridge, the problem will likely continue because Misty Ridge Lane is the most convenient exit, City Administrator Mark Grams, who lives in the subdivision, said.
    Ald. Dave Larson asked whether the city could also extend the 35 mph speed limit farther to the north, to First Street, when the Misty Ridge speed limit change is made, saying that Highway 32, aka Spring Street, is wide enough to handle this.
    “There’s no reason it shouldn’t be 35 mph,” he said.
    Hingiss disagreed, saying police already find that many people driving in that area are exceeding the speed limit.
    “You move it to 35 mph, they’re going to go a little faster,” he said.
    Aldermen dropped that suggestion while approving the change sought by the Misty Ridge subdivision residents. Daily Press