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Measures To Reduce Vehicle Speed Given OK?By Supervisors

By Staff | Oct 17, 2013

After reviewing ideas for ways to reduce vehicle speed on a stretch of Palo Alto County Road N40, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to try those measures.

Action came after the Emmetsburg City Council had voted to implement a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit on a stretch of the roadway, which leads north of the Five Island Golf Course to the city limits north of the Rockport Addition.

Earlier this Fall, property owner Dave Rouse had appeared before the board to request the speed limit to be lowered on the stretch of roadway, citing concerns over increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic as the result of the completion of the second leg of the Five Island Trail.

At that time, the board, with agreement from County Engineer Joel Fantz and other neighboring landowners, decided not to lower the limit.

However, a week ago, Fantz met with Rouse and offered some ideas as a possible compromise.

“I met with Dave out there and we looked at some things,” Fantz reported. “One of the things I?proposed was putting a rumble strip in the southbound lane near the entrance to Rockport, which would get the attention of drivers. We would also widen the shoulders on either side of the railroad crossing to create a perpendicular crosswalk situation for trail users.”

Fantz also noted that crosswalk signs would be posted before the tracks, and also mentioned the idea of “Rough Crossing” signs, which would also slow drivers.

The board agreed with the suggestions at that time, and felt the issue was addressed.

However on Tuesday, Fantz reported he had been asked to appear at the Emmetsburg City Council meeting to address the subject the night before.

“I presented the council members with a recent speed study that basically said people don’t pay attention to speed limit signs,”?Fantz explained, “and one councilman replied he didn’t believe that.”

Fantz continued, “I?think we’re all in agreement that people will drive the speed that feels natural for the road. I’ve said that before and studies show that.”

The engineer noted he has shared his ideas with city staff, but those ideas had not been shared with the council members prior to Monday’s meeting.

“Anyhow, the council voted to lower the limit to 45,” Fantz said. “But as that road is under joint city-county jurisdiction, the county would also have to pass a resolution to lower the limit, and I’m not in favor of doing so.”

“We want to try those ideas you proposed last week,”?Board Chair Ron Graettinger said.

“It would be nice if the Trail committee would weigh in on this and have some input on this issue,”?observed Supervisor Ed Noonan. “Especially on how they cross the road.”

“I say build and underpass under the tracks for the trail,”?commented Supervisor Linus Solberg. “Any idea what that might cost?”

Fantz estimated that using the price of a concrete box culvert, the cost could run around $80,000, but noted there would be drainage issues in the area.

“I think your suggestions were very good,”?Graettinger said. “Widening the shoulders by the tracks and setting up that crossing. Let’s just leave this as is, go ahead and do what you’ve suggested and see how that works.”

The board agreed with Graettinger’s comment, to end the discussion.