The Lafayette County Highway Safety meeting was called to order on Thursday, Dec. 28, were discussion ensued pertaining to the speed limit in Shullsburg.
Ryan Mayer, Wisconsin DOT Traffic Safety, stated that two bridges in Shullsburg will be replaced one on Judgement Street and one on Johnson Road in 2022 and/or 2023. Mayer said, “While in the meeting where we were discussing the bridge replacement, I took the opportunity to complain about the Hwy. 11 and Water Street intersection in Shullsburg. I told them this is a high priority for Lafayette County and it’s not the safest intersection. It was felt that this bridge replacement meeting was not the appropriate place to discuss the intersection.”
Reg Gill, Lafayette County Sheriff asked what would be the appropriate time. Mayer answered, “Well, if we can’t fund it with safety funds, and I already looked at that and we can’t. Then it would have to wait until the DOT programs this piece of Hwy. 11 then the intersection would be upgraded at that time.”
Emmett Reilly, Shullsburg Adler, asked, “What can you do in the meantime? Lower the speed limit?” Mayer said, “Well, I’ve looked at that.” Reilly said, “Can you straighten out the speed limits, there is so many different speed limits on that road. Did you know that?” Mayer answered, “Yea, we looked at speed limits…” Reilly asked, “What are the speed limits going up the hill and going down the hill?” Mayer answered, “It’s 40 mph in the downtown. “ Reilly, “That’s not true. Coming in to Shullsburg it’s 55 mph, then it goes to 45 and then 40. All in a stretch of a half mile. You didn’t know that?” Mayer, “There shouldn’t be any 45 mph.” Reilly said, “Well, go look. I guess you didn’t look.”
Jean asked Reilly what colors are the signs? Reilly answered, “White and yellow.” Gill explained, “The yellow signs are not speed limits, those are recommended speeds. The white signs are the actual speed limits.” Unfazed Reilly continued, “It’s 55 until you get to the top of the hill at Truck Country, it’s no wonder why you’re having trouble at Water Street. If you lowered the speed limit, it would probably help it, until you had the money to change it.” Mayer said, “We looked at the speed limits…” Reilly interrupted, “No you didn’t, otherwise you would have seen those three signs.” Mayer said, “A yellow and black sign is different then a white and black sign.” Reilly, “Now your being technical and that doesn’t mean anything to people who are driving.” Jean said, “Yes it does, it means the difference between a ticket and not a ticket.”
Gloria Swenson, mayor of Shullsburg, said, “What can we do to get that stretch of highway at 35 mph? We’ve been trying to get this changed for two years. There are issues with the Friendship intersection.” Reilly said, “How much would it cost to put a lower speed limit sign up?” Mayer said, “Fifty bucks.” Swenson said, “That would solve the problem. I have a lot of people complaining.” Mayer said, “That wouldn’t solve the problem, it wouldn’t change the behavior and would make a lot of normal people break the law.” Reilly interjected, “That’s an opinion.”
Swenson said, “We talk to the people that run the hardware store and it’s supposed to be 40 mph there and people aren’t going 40.” Mayer asked, “Have you tried enforcing that?” Swenson, “Yea. What can I say?” Mayer said, “We took a good look at Water Street, you have plenty of time to see cars coming in both directions at the current posted speed limit. If you lowered the speed limit it wouldn’t make much of a difference at all.” Reilly brought up the 100 to 200 semis a day that come from Co. O onto Hwy. 11 and stated a lower speed limit would help that a lot.” Gill said, “Emmitt, just so you know, we’ve been hammering Ryan about that intersection for about two years.” Reilly said, “And he doesn’t get it.” Gill said, “It’s not that he doesn’t get it, it’s out of Ryan’s hands.”
Swenson and Reilly both asked, “Where do we need to go? Who can we talk to?” Mayer said, “When we met before, my chief and the regional director were at that meeting.” Gill said, “Would it help if they talked to Senator Marklein or Representative Novak?” Jean mentioned, “There is a lot of utilities in those two corners, we need to get that moved back.” Reilly gave Mayer a business card and asked for his bosses email and said, “We’ll work on it from the Todd Novak and Howard Marklein side also.
Mayer was asked if his department was looking at the Darlington intersection of Hwy. 23 & 81, as there have been three serious accidents there in the last two months. Jean said, “We’ve been talking about that intersection longer than we’ve taking about Co. O.” Jean noted that the Hwy. 23 project for 2021 stops before that intersection. Mayer said he’s pulled crashes from there in the past but would take a look at it and update his data.”
Jean passed out the years ATV route requests. The committee only approves new route request once a year and this is the meeting they do that. After discussion regarding the requests and clarification from Tri-County ATV Club president Fuzzy North the following requests were approved: Requested from Tri County ATV Club: Out of Calamine – Co. G west (across bridge) to C; Co. C from Co. G to Co. O; Co. O from Co. C to Burr Oak Road; Co. W from Co. J to Dump Road; Co. G from Hirshburner Road to Bond Road; Co. F from Co. Z to Lange Road. Request from Robert Simon- Benton Township: CTH I from Knee Deep Road to Silverthorn Road. Request from Robert Hessling - New Diggings: CTH I from New Diggings to Illinois State Line. This will need go to full County Board for approval.
Randy Wiessinger, Wisconsin DOT - Bureau of Transportation Safety (BOTS) had facts and figures for the committee and Wiessinger rolled out a website that the public can use.
In Lafayette County year-to-date there have been five fatalities in the county. The five-year average for Lafayette is only two. So that’s not a good year for fatalities in the county. State-wide fatalities are at 579, and that is exactly the same as last year. A large part of the crashes that resulted in deaths involve alcohol, seatbelts and speed.
Wiessinger turned off the lights and gave a demonstration of the new website - Wisconsin Community Maps. The site is set to go live Jan. 2, 2018. The map shows locations in Wisconsin (including just Lafayette) and documents with a mark on the map where crashes have happened and if it involved a fatality or injury. There are several filters that can be put into the map.
In other business:
•Gill reported five fatality crashes, 256 car deer accidents, 65 people injured in accidents.
•Jean discussed the accidents that have happened at Hwy 23 and Short Cut Road. Three bad accidents this year at that intersections and Jean stated he doesn’t know why. Jean said, “We’ve cut down a bank and moved utilities so that there is plenty of visibility. Jean said Willow Springs has put in rumble strips on Short Cut Road. It was mentioned that there are two rumble strips and maybe there should be three.
•Sergeant Phil Witkiewicz of the Wisconsin State Patrol introduced himself. He offered his resources to the municipalities.
•Jean reported that four bridges will be reconstructed in 2018. They include Russell Road in Kendall Township; Co. U north of Shullsburg; Bethel Grove Road at the entrance to Lake Joy (the work on this bridge will take place between Fourth of July and be done by Labor Day) and Holland Road bridge.