Now that Jefferson Street has been repaved, one of the residents along the Warsaw road believes speeding has increased.
Her perception of what’s happening along Jefferson as she explained it to the Warsaw Traffic Commission on Wednesday, however, doesn’t appear to match up to the data gathered by police.
Angela Brown said she brought her concern up to Mayor Joe Thallemer’s attention a little over a month ago.
“Since Jefferson Street had been repaved, there has been an increase in speed,” she told the commission Wednesday. Having been unemployed for a few weeks, she said she spent a considerable amount of time sitting on her front porch watching the traffic, even recording it. “My average speeds going off the highest speeds that I read on your digital sign, in an hour period, averaged out to 36 mph. In a residential neighborhood, that’s excessive.”
Brown pointed out there’s no sidewalks along the street, at night there’s very little lighting and at certain times of the day there are certain vehicles which will just fly down the road. In the last week, since she’s been able to look at actual speeds off the speed board, Brown said she called several companies in Warsaw to complain about their drivers.
“I’ve even witnessed police, law enforcement speeding. Yesterday at 3:46 p.m., a Kosciusko County Sheriff SUV was clocked by your digital sign doing 36 mph in a 30 mph speed limit. Why are citizens going to follow the law if our own law enforcement doesn’t?” she said.
Brown also said she saw Warsaw and Winona Lake police speed down the road, though she couldn’t see the speed board for them. “You could just tell that they were going above 30 mph.” She said something needs to happen to slow the traffic down before somebody gets hurt.
She suggested a couple ideas, including a stop sign at the intersection of Cleveland and East Jefferson streets, as well as put in speed humps to help slow people down.
Street Superintendent Dustin Dillon told her, “According to the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices), we can not use a stop sign to control speed. That is not an application we can use a stop sign for.”
Warsaw Police Department Capt. Joel Beam reported he had the speed board out there for eastbound and westbound Jefferson Street traffic. Down at Jefferson and McKinley streets, he said there were about 700 vehicles a day and the average speed was 24.23 mph. The 50th percentile speed was 25.29 mph, and the 85th percentile speed was 30.11 mph. The high speed was 46 mph.
Going westbound at 2000 E. Jefferson St., Beam pointed out the average speed was 25.11 mph; 50th percentile was 26.9 mph; and the 85th percentile was 31.41 mph. The high speed was 58 mph.
Looking at both of these, Beam said he put in a speeder of 7 mph or more and it was less than 1% going east or west.
“The problem is, though, in a residential neighborhood, where there’s no sidewalks, nowhere for anyone to get off of the road, even 7 mph over that speed limit could kill somebody, especially if it’s a semi, which that is a truck route,” Brown said, suggesting another option would be to lower the speed limit to 25 mph.
Beam said lowering the speed limit would be very hard, especially since the average speed on Jefferson is already 25 mph.
At one point, it was pointed out that an officer can’t sit along Jefferson Street all day every day to watch for speeders especially since there are roads with higher traffic counts like U.S. 30, but officers have been on Jefferson even if she can’t see them.
Traffic Administrator Lance Grubbs said they have to look at the data on roads, like the number of crashes.
“The city of Warsaw has a lot of roadway, and for the officers to be out there all the time - all we can do is ask people to go the speed limit,” Grubbs said.
City Planner Justin Taylor said, “This is a good example of how the perception of the width of the road enables people to drive faster or slower. We’ve demonstrated that. If there’s a feeling that the travel lane is narrower, people will slow down. So now that it’s been repaved, they feel like they have a little wider of a road ... and will drive a little bit faster.”
Grubbs pointed out there are designated bike paths, like along Market Street, for people to hopefully follow.
Dillon said the road work on Jefferson Street was part of the city’s Community Crossings grant from the state. It was in very poor shape for a number of years before that.
“So repaving that road and putting paving markings on it was to help delineate the lanes. We had tons of complaints of semis and truck traffic coming over and hogging the center of the road too much. It was a big issue,” Dillon stated.
Brown said they still do.
“As far as not having anything on the side, the edge of the road is the edge of the road. It’s still not a wide road,” Dillon said.
City engineer Aaron Ott stated that maybe children shouldn’t be riding their bikes and walking in groups down Jefferson Street because it is a truck route.
Don Parker, a North Buffalo Street resident, brought up his concerns about the traffic in the alley by American Legion Post 49. He wanted traffic to slow down, maybe some speed limit signs. Dillon said an engineering study is being done on Bison Lane.
Shana Mayer, a Country Club resident, gave her concern about speeders along that road now that a family with children has moved into the home across from hers. There’s also many pedestrians, bikers and rollerbladers. She was told the city was looking at a pedestrian trail down Country Club Road.
The Traffic Commission also revisited the speeding on South Detroit Street as it approached the intersection with Pope Street at Warsaw Cut Glass. The issue, along with drivers using Prairie Street as a shortcut to Winona Avenue, was discussed at the Oct. 4 meeting.
Commission member Connie Fribley commented that while she was going to an appointment, her GPS routed her onto Prairie Street. “So it may not be just local people taking shortcuts. It may be GPS is routing people that way,” she said.
Beam said a representative from MACOG (Michiana Area Council of Governments) was asked to be at Wednesday’s meeting, but they couldn’t make it because of a previous engagement.
He also reminded the commission that they had the intersection reviewed in spring 2022 and at that point MACOG recommended nothing be done and it be kept the way it is.
Grubbs said he received an email from MACOG the other day and they would like to meet at a later date and go over some suggestions for the area. Councilman Jack Wilhite said he was willing to make himself available for that meeting. Grubbs said INDOT was copied on the email but didn’t comment.
Until they can meet with MACOG, the matter was tabled.
At the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Beam reported on U.S. 30 statistics and Husky Trail.
In October 2022, there were nine incidents, 12 accidents and two arrests by the WPD on U.S. 30 within the city limits. In October 2023, there were 21 incidents, 17 accidents and eight arrests.
Breaking down the citations, Beam said in October 2022, there were 68. This year, 156.
Reporting a concern on Husky Trail, Beam said there was a crash right in front of Harrison Elementary and then another crash in front of the school within the next day or two.
“Just looking at that, it also is on our sights. We had five crashes on that road in the last five years. In 2019, we talked last time about Gidieon Cook, and since then we did not have any crashes until this year. The first crash was a DUI, they hit mailboxes at North Pointe, they couldn’t keep it in the middle of the road. The second crash - the one that got our attention - was we had a car that stopped for the crosswalk, and the car behind it, their brakes went out and they rearended that car. Grateful they hit a car and nothing else,” Beam said.
In another crash a day later, a driver was following another vehicle too close and wasn’t paying attention when the vehicle in front of them stopped for the crosswalk.
“That area is being monitored,” Beam said.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 10 in the council chambers at City Hall.