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03-02-05 Rockford may try to lower speed limits

By Timothy Cox

  ROCKFORD -- Village officials are renewing discussion on the recently raised speed limits on U.S. 33 on the edges of town. Concerns also were raised about the speed limit on state Route 118 in front of the future Parkway Local Schools building.

  Attorney Judy Koesters was asked during a meeting Tuesday night to look into both issues and report back to council.
  Speed limit signs on stretches of U.S. 33 were changed in December to 50 miles per hour from the 35 mph speed limit that had been enforced for 46 years. The village lost a couple of traffic cases in court, which led to the change. The state controls the speed limits on highways, even inside municipal corporation limits, but apparently there are ways to get exemptions granted to lower speed limits.
  The need for the reduced 35 mph speed limit is necessary for safety reasons, especially on the northwest corner of the village, council member Eugene Steiner and police Chief Paul May said. A 50 mph limit is simply too high for tractor-trailers to get safely stopped at the intersection of U.S. 33 and state Route 118, they said.
  "We've already had two trucks ... go fishing, right on down into the river," Steiner said. "There's no fatalities or anything but there's always that possibility."  Rockford officials believe they can get the speed limit lowered by petitioning the state. A traffic count would have to be done along the highway to see if traffic volumes warrant lower speeds. A traffic count was started a couple of years ago, but the equipment malfunctioned and the study was never completed.
  Village officials also are concerned about the speed limit along state Route 118 in front of the Parkway school building that is under construction. Mayor Bob King urged village officials to seek action along that stretch of road, too, because the existing 55 mph limit is too high for the future school zone.


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