The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has decided to not raise the speed limit in the Alpha and the Town of Wood River.
The Sentinel reported the initial change was set at making the road 55 mph all the way through Alpha on State Highway 70, according to statements made by public officials.
Jennifer Berg of WisDOT, clarified at a meeting in February that the proposed speed limit was 45. Berg is a traffic engineer based out of the Eau Claire Office for WisDOT.
However, Berg said the speed limit will not be changed right now and may be reassessed in the future. The decision on the speed limit will hinge on driveways and access points on highway 70.
“Access and parking lot changes in progress at the dairy will impact travel speeds,” the report states. “Recommend collecting new data when these changes are complete and leaving the speed zone as-is for now.”
There are 13 driveways on the north side of highway 70 and nine driveways on the south side in the study area, which was defined as County Road Y and County Road M along highway 70.
Berg wrote, “WisDOT’s philosophy is to set speed limits that are based primarily on the 85th percentile speed of the traffic stream.”
The 85th percentile speed defines the speed that 85 percent of drivers will drive at or below under free-flowing conditions.
“The 85th percentile speeds in the existing speed zone, ranging from 48.9 mph to 57.7 mph, are higher than the existing 40 mph speed limit,” the report states.
There have been six documented crashes between 2014 to August 2019 in the studied region.
WisDOT says all crashes were property damage only. One crash was attributed to a driver driving too fast
“The other five crashes did not have speed as a contributing factor,” the report states.
WisDOT opened their investigation after receiving a letter from the Town of Wood River Clerk Raylene Swanson on behalf of the Town.
“(The Town of Wood River) believe simply shifting the speed zone can positively contribute to the overall safety of all traffic in the area.”
Burnett County Highway Commissioner Mike Hoefs is also in favor of shifting the speed zone. He was also glad to know that the DOT was not, at this time, going forward with raising the speed limit.
“I’m in favor of considering other measures to enhance safety such as adding a crosswalk between that Dairy and their employee parking lot on the north side of the highway as well as adding digital speed display signs on each end of the speed zone,” Hoefs told the Sentinel. “There continues to be discussions between the DOT and stakeholders on these potential measures. I think the DOT will allow the speed zone to be shifted if other measures are agreed upon.”