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Speed limit changing by Fruzen

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BELOIT — A 15-mile per hour school zone speed limit will be implemented near the new Fran Fruzen Intermediate School between Lee Lane and Willowbrook Road when children are present. Signs are scheduled to be installed by the end of this week, announced traffic engineer Jason Dupuis in a Traffic Review Committee meeting held Monday afternoon at city hall.

Currently at Fruzen, Beloit Police have been erecting portable signs, although there has been discussion about getting more permanent signs.

Dupuis said radar signs will be set to flash above 15 miles per hour from 7:15 – 8:45 a.m. and 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., although it could change depending on traffic patterns.

The decision was made after the city received its final report from an engineering consultant on Wednesday. City officials met with school district and police department officials to further discuss the issue on Thursday.

Dupuis said the school district is sharing costs on two radar signs to remind drivers of their speed in the school zone. He said a resource officer is posted at the school’s entrance and exit and during drop-off times, and police have increased enforcement.

City Councilor Sheila De Forest asked about adding additional traffic signals. Dupuis said the consultant looked into signals at Willowbrook Road and restricting turn movements out of the school entrance and exit. However, Dupuis said the traffic areas didn’t require additional signals and the traffic consultant is not recommending any restrictive movements coming out of the school.

De Forest asked what the harm would be in installing more warning signs or signals.

Dupuis said there’s some traffic operations which could start to fail once the speed limit gets posted lower.

“We did the speed study and they recommended a very short 15 mph speed zone and we extended it a bit.” Dupuis said. “We are trying to make sure a good balance with the 15 mph school zone while allowing the rest of traffic to function optimally.”

De Forest suggested a sign recommending motorists reduce speed ahead to give drivers more notice. She also said the city should bring the speed down to 15 miles per hour at all times.

“If the school district chose to put a school out there, we should make it 15 mph at all times,” De Forest said.

One person asked about adding cones to alert drivers of the speed zone. Beloit School District school resource officer Dan Stauffacher, however, said the cones were stolen.

With many schools growing in student numbers due to the 2012 facilities referendum, there have been some increased calls regarding traffic congestion at many of the local schools including Fruzen Intermediate School, Todd Elementary School, Aldrich Intermediate School and Gaston Elementary School.

As part of the traffic study by Fruzen, traffic sensors were set up in addition to increased police presence starting Sept. 15 following recent traffic fatalities unrelated to the school.

On Aug. 29, a Beloit man on a bicycle was struck by a vehicle and killed in the 2600 block of Milwaukee Road. Mario Esquivel-Flores, 43, of Beloit was traveling eastbound on a bicycle when he was struck. Also, an elderly woman died and five teenagers were injured in a two-car crash at the intersection of Milwaukee Road and Morgan Terrace on Sept. 15. Lucille Zimrich, 88, died in that crash.



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