June 23, 2017 – Big Cedar Lake, WI – There were about 30 people at Padway’s Supper Club on Friday afternoon as neighbors gathered with state officials to discuss the speed limit on State Highway 144.
The safety meeting was prompted by those living along the Highway who had concerns about the safety of people crossing the road and the kids crossing to get to the piers on Big Cedar Lake.
The objective of the meeting was to ask the State Department of Transportation to help improve safety for pedestrians by reducing the speed from 35 miles per hour to 25 mph on a just a small .7 mile section of road between the Cedar Lake Yacht Club and the curve to the south, just past Padways.
There were four representatives from the State Department of Transportation including John Haug and traffic supervisor Stacey Pierce. Washington County Sheriff’s Captain Bruce Theusch was also in attendance along with a member of the Washington County Highway Department.
State Assembly Rep. Bob Gannon said his office worked with the State DOT to put up radar in the Padway’s parking lot. “That happened in March 2017 and they found the speeds were not excessive,” said Gannon.
“The state was pretty cooperative and said they were willing to put up radar again.”
There was discussion about placing a sign with flashing lights in the area to notify motorists to adhere to the 35 mph speed limit. There is a speed change in that area as it drops from 45 mph to 35 mph as you drive south toward the Cedar Lake Yacht Club.
State officials did acknowledge, according to Gannon, that the road is not built to state standards. “But you have to be careful what you ask for because if that road is upgraded then it would take a lot of the front yards of property owners along Hwy 144,” he said.
Data from DOT accident reports showed there were not enough accidents in that area to initiate change. “Seventy-five percent of accidents in that section are property damage only,” said Gannon. “That tells them it’s not the most serious area in the state.”
Some of those in attendance offered other suggestions such as installing speed bumps, putting in a bike path and even allowing the county to take over the road. “There were a lot of ideas shared but the DOT took time to explain some of the ramifications of each of those ideas,” Gannon said.
Neighbors who left the meeting were pretty satisfied with the response from the DOT. “They were hopeful,” said Gannon. “The state also made it clear they would try other corrective measures before resorting to dropping the speed limit.”
Pierce from the DOT said if they were to put in flashing lights around the speed-limit signs that would take about two to three weeks.
On a side note: All state highways start at the speed limit of 55 mph and then there has to be justification for the DOT to raise that limit.