Speed limit reduced on E. Main Street where pedestrian was hit and killed

Flowers and memorials were put at the site where Julie L. Nelson, 48, was hit and killed by a vehicle on Nov. 23 near E. Main Street and Whitetail Drive.

The speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph on a stretch of East Main Street where a Sun Prairie woman was killed last November after being hit by a car.

Signs will go up soon marking the speed limit change from Grove Street to Town Hall Road.

Julie L. Nelson, 48, was killed on Nov. 23 when a vehicle hit her while she was walking on a bike path near E. Main Street and Whitetail Drive. Nelson’s wife, Jodi, was seriously injured.

Sun Prairie District 1 Alder and Public Works Committee chair Steve Stocker spoke with Jodi Nelson recently and told her of city’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety in that area.

“This is one way that we can show we care, and hopefully, what happened to Julie Nelson won’t happen again,” Stocker said.

Nelson’s death was one of three fatal pedestrian-vehicle accidents in the past year on the Main Street corridor. Jacob A. Johnson, 45, was killed after being hit by a car, while crossing West Main Street at Foxdale Drive around 9:35 p.m. on Feb. 24. Julie A. Ziegler, 46, died after being hit by a car on April 14, 2020, near West Main Street and Clarmar Drive. A citation for driving without insurance was issued to the driver who hit Ziegler. The two other incidents remain under investigation by Sun Prairie Police.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation supported the city’s request to reduce speed limits alongside State Highway 19 because the transitional speed zone there wasn’t effective. The DOT, which has jurisdiction over state highways, recommended that the speed limit remain the same east of Musket Ridge Drive.

The city will install a sign at Musket Ridge Drive that displays a motorist’s speed if the DOT approves the permit.

Main Street, from Rattman Road to Musket Ridge, will now have a consistent 25 mph speed limit.

Sun Prairie Police Sgt. Jason Lefeber said police will patrol the whole Main Street corridor to enforce the new speed limits.

But Public Works Committee member Kelvin Santiago, a transportation and safety civil engineer, said the city needs to make changes to infrastructure to support speed limits.

“We are not going to enforce your way out of safety, the design has to support the speed limits,” Santiago said.

DOT strategies to slow down motorists include speed humps, pedestrian crosswalks, textured roadway surfaces, stop signs, signal phasing, lane striping and vegetation plantings.

The recent deaths put a spotlight on pedestrian safety in the city.

Early this month, the city council approved reducing the speed limit to 25 mph along Main Street from Grove Street to Rattman Road.

The recommendation came from the Pedestrian Safety Task Force that includes city staff, fire department personnel and Neighborhood Navigators.

Other pedestrian safety improvements are on the horizon, including crosswalk upgrades, pedestrian refuge islands and traffic signals.

An education program is also in the works to discourage jaywalking.

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