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Council passes no passing zone

Restriction added on Old Stage Road, where speed limit will remain 25 mph

Old Stage Road will become a no passing zone from the Nettle Creek bridge west to the city limits.

The Morris City Council approved the new designation at its meeting Monday with a 5-to-2 vote. Aldermen Don Hansen and Don Matteson voted against the zone. Alderman Randy Larson was absent from the meeting.

The recommendation came from the Street and Alley Committee, which has been discussing the road’s speed limit and safety concerns for more than a year.

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 for children and pedestrians 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.

The committee eventually decided to leave the speed limit the same and recommended adding the no passing lines to ensure safety.

Larson, a member of the committee, said previously he could not support increasing the speed limit until it became a no passing zone and until property owners cut their shrubbery that currently causes blind spots at intersections along Old Stage.

Once these issues were addressed, he said the committee could discuss possibly increasing the limit again.

Matteson told the council Monday he could not vote to make it a no passing zone because he himself is one of the farmers who takes farm equipment down that road, slowing traffic and causing people to need to pass.

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” said Hansen after the meeting. “I was never for slowing it down out there. Now that it is 25 there probably is a problem with passing.”

“I wish it was 35 out there. I always thought 25 was too slow,” he continued.

Alderman Julian Houston, who lives near Old Stage Road and has been following the Street and Alley Committee’s discussion on the topic, said he was pleased the area was becoming a no passing zone.

“It brings everything together,” he said.

“There will still be people who are going to pass, but now if they do it it is illegal and it will slow people down out there.”

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