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04-20-05 Rockford officials will not fight higher speed through town

By Timothy Cox

  ROCKFORD -- Village officials apparently have decided not to pursue a reduction in the speed limit along stretches of U.S. 33 on the east and west edges of town.

  The speed limit along the highway was raised in December to 50 miles per hour after having been enforced at the posted speed of 35 mph for 46 years. The increase was forced by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) after the village lost a couple of court cases that determined the lawful speed should be 50 mph.
  Some village officials had expressed concern about the new higher speed and had called for a traffic study and possible petition to ODOT to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph. But other village officials questioned the necessity of such a study, and the consensus opinion during a Tuesday meeting was to drop the issue, although no formal vote was taken.
  Most village officials are wary of pursuing the issue -- especially at the town's expense -- because the common belief is ODOT officials will not approve the lower speed limit.
  Council member Eugene Steiner has been the most vocal about the issue and brought it up again at Tuesday's regular council meeting. Police Chief Paul May also supports the 35 mph limit but did not attend the meeting.  Council member Keith Rutledge questioned whether a traffic study should be commissioned. Council members last month had asked Village Administrator Jeff Long to investigate the issue, but Long said he has received no response from ODOT. Council member Randy Gutierrez also questioned whether a study is a wise use of money.
  Long said he would be willing to go forward with a traffic study if village employees could perform the labor. Long also said he "seriously doubted" ODOT officials would change their stance on the issue.
  In other business Tuesday, council members:
   Passed second reading of resolution to apply for Community Development Block Grant funding through the Mercer County Commissioners. The village is asking for $35,000 to complete a water line project.
   Heard that Long is gathering preliminary estimates on possible improvements to the village water plant. Long said he is hoping the aging plant can be "revamped" without total reconstruction.
   Heard that spring cleanup is 7:30 a.m.-noon April 30.
   Set an infrastructure committee meeting for 1:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss a potential sidewalk ordinance.


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