By Megan Baughman
Mason News staff writer
Council members on Oct. 18 passed 10 proposed speed limit changes, which have been a topic of discussion for Mason Council members since the distribution of the Speed Limit Study by the Traffic Commission on Sept. 7, 2010. Changing speed limits on certain city roads from 25-mph to 35-mph was supposed to be voted on at the Oct. 4 meeting, but action was pushed back to the Oct. 18 meeting so the Traffic Commission could further review them. The affected streets include West Columbia Street, East Columbia Street, Jefferson Street, Okemos Road, Kerns Street, Cedar Street, South Street, Barnes Street, Temple Street, and the street under most review by the Council, Lansing Street.
Within the Traffic Control Order issued to the council, which is based on the 85th percentile speed of traffic as determined by the Speed Limit Study, Lansing Street was broken down into three parts: from the intersection of Maple Street to the intersection of Ash Street, the intersection of Ash Street to the intersection of South Street, and from the intersection of South Street to the intersection of Jefferson Street. The first two parts would keep the same speed limit at 25-mph, while the speed limit in the section from South Street to Jefferson Street would increase to 35-mph.
(Please view larger map to see proposed changes)
City Attorney Dennis McGinty found that under the Land Division Act, the section of road between the intersections of South Street and Mable Court could stay at 25-mph instead of being raised to 35-mph. McGinty stated in his letter to the Council members that the maximum speed could be 25-mph from Ash Street to Mable Court and 35-mph from Mable Court to Jefferson Street. The concern with the board and this proposition, however, is that it is recommended speed limit changes not be less than a half a mile in order to give vehicles adequate time to slow down coming from Jefferson Street onto Lansing Street.
Resident Larry Martin, who owns a home on Lansing Street, told the council that he does not want any part of the road changed to 35-mph. He said that many trucks cut down Lansing Street to avoid the traffic light on the corner of Jefferson Street and Ash Street, and changing any part of the road to 35-mph would not give these trucks enough time to slow down from 35-mph to 25-mph, causing a traffic hazard and making it unsafe for children who live on the street. He also claims that many cars are already going at least 5- to 10-mph over the 25-mph speed limit, so posted speed limit change is not necessary and increasing it to 35-mph would only give them leeway to go faster. His solution to the speeding problem is to have a police officer posted on the road at all times, although he stated he knows this is not possible because, as Martin said, “They have their hands full with other issues.”
Despite Martin’s concerns for the change on Lansing Street, all 10 of the proposed traffic-control orders passed with councilmembers Neal Johnson, Elaine Ferris, Barb Tornholm and Leslie Bruno, Jr. voting yes and councilmember Michael Waltz and Mayor Leon Clark voting no. Clark’s main reason for voting against the changes was his concern for the children at bus stops. “85 percent of traffic is moving faster than posted speed limits already. I’d rather lose speeding tickets in court than change a speed limit by a bus stop.”