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Limit The Speed On N40

By Staff | Aug 14, 2008

A request to set speed limits on N40 to Rockport Subdivision met with mixed reaction on the county and city levels.

N40 is a farm-to-market road. Rockport subdivision is located within the city limits of Emmetsburg, with the east half of N40 up to Rockport in the city limits. The request, from Rockport developer, Dave Rouse, was for slower speed in the area between College Drive and Nolan Drive.

At their meeting Aug. 5, Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution establishing speed limits.

As outlined by the county resolution, for northbound traffic on N40 (also known as 460th Avenue), the speed would be 35 mph before the railroad crossing, increasing to 45 mph approximately 370 feet north of the railroad, and 55 mph just before 350th Street. For southbound traffic, speed would be 45 mph just south of 350th Street and 35 mph just before the railroad crossing.

Supervisors Leo Goeders, Ed Noonan, Ronald Graettinger and Jerry Hofstad approved the speed limit; Supervisor Keith Wirtz voted against the measure.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz commented, “Although well meaning, this action to lower the speed below what the majority of drivers will be traveling after it is implemented, will cause greater differences in driver speed. This is likely to increase, rather than decrease, the accident rate.” Fantz did not recommend implementing speed limits.

Four residents against setting speed limits attended Emmetsburg City Council’s meeting Monday, Aug. 11. These residents, who live along N40, were opposed to the proposal.

“Slowing down is not going to prevent accidents,” said Jeff Stillman. “To my knowledge, there has been one accident at the Rockport drive and that happened in the fog.”

Stillman noted that this is the only way to town for those living on the west side of the lake.

“That’s almost a half mile and it would really slow us down,” he said. “Dave (Rouse) talked about bicycles, but that’s three or four months out of the year when people are training for RAGBRAI… There’s a good, long field of vision going both ways from the Rockport drive.”

Diane Nelson pointed out that N40 is a farm-to-market road. The shoulders are narrow and there is a lot of truck traffic.

“Most people would not consider walking on Main or Broadway,” Diane said. “Why not think about adding a bike/pedestrian trail or make a frontage road along Rockport? Slower speed (on N40) could lead to more traffic on gravel roads, causing more damage to those roads.”

Dick Nelson also addressed the council. “I agree with the county engineer. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Police Chief Eric Hanson was asked his opinion.

“Our officers patrol Rockport regularly,” he told the council. “We had only one contact, Dave Rouse, about the speed limits. Dave was concerned about the number of houses going up at Rockport. No other citizens were concerned about the speed limit.”

Hanson said there have not been a lot of accidents or even close calls at the intersection of N40 and Nolan Drive. He also noted that no runners or bicyclers had requested slower speeds.

“Traffic up there is respectful of that (runners and bicyclers),” said Hanson. “The visibility is good. I understand his (Dave Rouse’s) concerns, but I don’t see that amount of traffic flowing in and out of Rockport. Based on what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen, leave it the way it is.”

Members of Emmetsburg City Council voted unanimously to leave the speed limits as they are currently set.