Speed limit zones on Hwy. M in Westport will be simplified, under a county ordinance amendment approved by the Dane County Board at its meeting on Jan. 23.
Currently there are six speed zones on Highway M in Westport between Middleton and Madison, ranging from 40 to 55 miles per hour. The new speed limits consolidate the speed zones from six zones to four zones.
The county ordinance to simplify the speed limits was co-sponsored by county board members Tim Kiefer and Dave Ripp. Kiefer and Ripp both serve on the county’s transportation committee and their districts both include parts of the Town of Westport.
“One of the consistent complaints we have heard about M is that the speed limits change so frequently,” said Dane County Board member Tim Kiefer. “In response, we worked with the county highway department to reduce the speed limit changes to keep the speed limits as uniform as possible.”
Under the current speed limits, a driver traveling from Middleton to Madison on Hwy. M drives through zones of 45 mph, 55 mph, 40 mph, back to 55 mph, 45 mph, and finally 40 mph. The new limits will eliminate two speed zone changes, so that the new limits will be 45 mph, 55 mph, 45 mph, and 40 mph.
“In working with the county’s highway staff, we were told that we have now reduced the speed zones to the minimum number of changes allowed by the traffic engineering,” Kiefer said. “Because this section of M has multiple curves and crosses land that is semi-rural, suburban, and commercial, there will be a variance between 40 mph and 55 mph on different sections of the highway.”
Kiefer said that the rush-hour traffic backups and accidents on M are a major concern for the county board.
“The county is working on a plan to significantly upgrade Highway M to accommodate the high traffic flows on this route,” Kiefer said. “The county will also be upgrading the Hwy. M corridor by adding a parallel bike-pedestrian trail and bike lanes, which will make M safer for everyone who uses this increasingly busy east-west corridor.”
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is expected to approve the speed limit changes recommended by the Dane County Board.