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Old Stage Road speed limit will not increase

Area will become a no-passing zone

The city of Morris has researched and debated what to do with Old Stage Road’s speed limit for more than a year, and has decided to leave well enough alone.

The speed limit will remain 25 mph on Old Stage Road, but could be revisited in the future. In addition to keeping the speed lower, the Street and Alley Committee decided to make the road a no passing zone and will be adding double yellow lines, as well as signage, said Mayor Richard Kopczick Thursday.

The committee met Tuesday to discuss the road’s speed again.

The speed limit has been 25 mph since the city council voted for the change in June 2012. The speed limit was 35 mph from 2003 to 2012; prior to 2003, it was 25 mph.

The change was brought forth by the committee after Hatcher’s Woods resident Harry Benner went to the committee to ask for double yellow lines on the road to stop people from passing. He had safety concerns and, after discussion and research, the committee decided to change the limit.

After the speed limit change, Hatcher’s Woods resident Dave Hextell told the city he felt the majority of the neighborhood did not want the reduction in the speed limit. The city later sent surveys to the area residents and, of the 155 surveys sent out, 17 came back in favor of leaving the speed limit 25 mph, 79 wanted it back at 35, and 59 surveys were not sent back.

Both Benner and Hextell were present at the meeting Tuesday, said Kopczick.

Although the committee voted in his favor, Benner chose not to comment to the Morris Daily Herald Thursday.

Hextell said he felt his neighbors were going to be disappointed.

“I feel bad for the people who have a lot going on and have to drive it eight times a day,” he said Thursday. “They’re going to be disappointed.”

He said some members of the neighborhood just do not agree on how safe the area is or is not.

“They don’t think it is safe anymore and I think we had 10 years of safety at 35 (mph),” said Hextell.

Chief Brent Dite has said previously the road does not present higher citations or accidents than other areas of the city.

In addition to speeding and passing concerns, residents told the committee there were issues with blind spots due to people’s shrubbery in their fields of vision when trying to pull on to Old Stage.

“The chief had been out there and had pictures of this issue,” said Alderman Randy Larson Thursday. “We asked the concerned citizens of the area to see if (they would discuss) this with friends and neighbors of the Hatcher’s Woods area to see if these blind spots could be eliminated. This would further support safety for all and reduce the chance for accidents.”

Larson said he could not support raising the speed limit until at least the no passing lines were established and the residents cut down their landscaping to fix the vision issues.

The committee did discuss a possible compromise to change the speed limit to 30 mph, but Alderman Bill Martin’s motion to do so died without a second from either Aldermen Barry Aldrich, chairman, or Larson.

“Once we get rid of these two issues, I always talked about having a gradual increase,” said Larson.
In the future, he said, he could see the road working its way up in speed as the road leaves the residential areas into more rural areas and eventually leaving the city limits.

The committee voted to add double yellow lines from the south side of the Nettle Creek bridge to the city limits on Old Stage. This was originally requested by Benner last summer out of concern for the safety of pedestrians on the road.

The city is also looking into getting signs on the road stating it is a no passing zone, said Kopczick, and whether an ordinance needs to be passed by the council. The city attorney will research if the ordinance is needed for police to ticket those who disobey.

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