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Platteville council puts brakes on reducing Business 151 speed limits
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The Platteville Common Council decided Oct. 14 to put the brakes on reducing speed limits on Business 151.

The council voted 5–2 to table the proposal of District 1 Ald. Barb Stockhausen to reduce the speed limit by 5 mph on Business 151 between the west city limit and East Side Road pending further study by city staff.

At-large Alds. Amy Seeboth-Wilson and Dick Bonin voted against tabling.

The discussion over to reduce speed limits focused on whether reducing speed limits by 5 mph would increase pedestrian safety in an area where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks.

“I see students coming down Water Street and coming down Business 151 to go to those restaurants,” said Stockhausen, whose business is near the west city limits. “The numbers are going to keep growing.”

District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian said that Business 151 is “basically a four-lane road.” Kilian said promoting pedestrian traffic will “lead to more hazards. These businesses are not set up to be pedestrian-friendly; they’re set up to bring in vehicles.”
Kilian also opposed making it easier for people to walk to Business 151 bars, claiming that people who “have had too much to drink” have caused vandalism on South Court Street. “So I do not want to see encouragement of pedestrian traffic in any areas,” he said.

“And to heck with pedestrians?” asked Bonin. “They’re going to be there no matter what.”

The speed limit on Business 151 now is 30 mph from the west city limits to Valley Road and 40 mph from Valley Road to the east city limits. The speed limit was reduced from 55 mph to 40 east of East Side Road when the stoplight at Commercial Drive/Vision Drive was installed.

The proposal would have reduced the speed limit, going west to east, to 35 mph from the west city limit to the west Rountree Branch bridge crossing near Staley Avenue, 25 mph between Rountree Branch bridge crossings to Valley Road — including the Business 151/Wisconsin 80/81 (South Water Street) intersection — and 35 from Valley Road to East Mineral Street/East Side Road.

At-large Ald. Mike Denn said instead of reducing speed limits, Platteville police should enforce the existing speed limits. He said that reducing speed limits would increase congestion at Business 151 and South Water Street, Grant County’s busiest intersection.

Denn argued that the accident rate had decreased on Business 151, but Seeboth-Wilson said the accident rate could be due to “compounding variables that make it difficult to look at.”

District 3 Ald. Barb Daus said she supported “reducing the speed limit in areas where there are problems” — to 25 mph in the “restaurant corridor,” but not to 35 mph past Valley Road.

Since the 151 four-lane opened in 2005, the city has had jurisdiction of Business 151 north of just south of the Business 151–South Water Street intersection, including that intersection. West of the westernmost Rountree Branch bridge and just west of the 151/Business 151 interchange is in the Town of Platteville. The state Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over Wisconsin 80/81 south of Business 151.

“We do not have authority to control the speed limit outside the city limits,” said Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot.

Stockhausen said she would speak to Grant County about reducing the speed limit on the portion of Business 151 outside the city, where it becomes Grant County D south of South Chestnut Street.