The City of Sun Prairie will enforce a uniform speed limit of 25 miles per hour (MPH) along Main Street from Grove Street to Rattman Road, thanks to a 6-2 approval vote taken during a special March 30 Sun Prairie City Council meeting.

The reduced speed limit is the first recommendation by a city staff-level Pedestrian Safety Task Force. The task force is made up of staff from the Public Works, Engineering, Planning, Police, Building Inspection and Fire departments as well as the Neighborhood Navigators.

A report from Director of Public Services Adam Schleicher said the task force has held two initial meetings and continues to meet weekly to work on both short and long-term plans to address pedestrian safety.

Schleicher wrote in his report that the initial focus of the group is the Main Street Corridor.

“The corridor between Grove Street and O’Keeffe was broken down into three segments for further analysis and review. The Engineering Department will be leading the effort on the section to the east of Vine Street, the Planning Department will focusing on the Downtown segment between Vine Street and Bristol Street, and the Public Works Department will take the lead on the portion to the west of Bristol Street,” Schleicher reported.

The project to add a pedestrian refuge island, RRFB signal, and driveway consolidation at The Element apartment complex (located at Park Circle) was bid as part of the Bird Street Project.

City staff joined the Neighborhood Navigators and staffers from the City’s Public Safety Departments on Wednesday March 24 at Park Circle during the lunch hour, with lunch facilitated through the Neighborhood Navigators and staff from the city’s Engineering and Public Works Departments.

The lunch meeting included information about this summer’s project and included questions and feedback on the project as well as other concerns along the Main Street corridor.

The task force is also developing a citizen engagement plan to provide an opportunity for residents to provide feedback on the corridor as a whole, individual segments and as well as individual projects along the corridor.

The task force is looking to finalize the plan at an upcoming meeting in order to present the plan to the Sun Prairie Public Works Committee at its April meeting.

Schelicher wrote in his report to the council that the first recommendation from the task force was to reduce the speed limit along Main Street from Grove Street to Rattman Road to 25 MPH. Currently the speed limit on Main Street varies between 25, 30 and 35 MPH.

“Having a consistent speed limit will increase pedestrian safety and provide a consistent speed limit along the corridor,” Schleicher wrote in his report.

City staff is working together to put a plan in place to communicate the new speed limit changes and work on enhanced education and enforcement on the speed.

The plan includes adding additional 25 MPH Speed Limit signs along the corridor, adding flags to the signs, and installing radar feedback signage along the entire corridor.

Despite support from some alders for the recommendation, District 3 Alder Mike Jacobs called it “a mistake” to take action on the uniform Main Street speed limit without public input.

It also ignores the large problem of jaywalking that is occurring throughout the city, Jacobs added.

District 1 Alder Steve Stocker, who chairs the Public Works Committee and presented the task force recommendation to the council, pointed out the meeting of public safety and Public Works personnel at The Element also included residents.

“But you are correct,” Stocker added, “jaywalking is a problem.” But he said pedestrians have the ability to get out of the way with a lower speed limit. “There will be citizen input — this is only part of it.”

Mayor Paul Esser also said that one of the Neighborhood Navigators who lives at The Element had input.

District 4 Alder Al Guyant said he is glad the speed response signs are being installed, but he urged the council to look at Speed Humps — which are gradual inclines in pavement that cause drivers to slow down.

Guyant said they would not be like the speed bump on Thompson that was removed after a day because of public opposition.

City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer explained that there were some things the task force wanted to tackle immediately and one was the speed of vehicle traffic along West Main Street.

Oppenheimer said the speed limit recommendation from the task force was consistent with city engineering plans to look at lowering the speed limit.

The city administrator said the task force hopes to have Neighborhood Navigators, police department district liaison officers and a public relations plan including a website to engage the community.

Oppenheimer said he has received emails from residents who want to be involved in the discussions as well.

Alders Guyant and Jacobs voted against the speed limit reduction, with Guyant joking that his no vote was due to the lack of including “speed humps” in the proposal.

More about the task force

“Vehicle safety has always been a priority but this is a renewed focus on it,” said Schleicher.

As the City of Sun Prairie continues to experience substantial growth, so does the occupancy of its streets. Main Street sustains an approximate traffic volume of 16,500 vehicles per day.

With the large amount of community growth, adjustments are needed to ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians.

Enforcement of the new speed limit will go into effect once the signage is updated.

Delivery of all necessary signs and materials will take place in roughly three weeks.

In order to emphasize and enhance education of the new speed limit, additional signage is being planned, adding flags to the signs, and installing radar feedback signage along the entire corridor.

The speed limit adjustment is one of the first steps in achieving the “Vision Zero” strategy regarding the safety of drivers and pedestrians, according to a city press release.

Among the proposed amenities outlined by the task force, crosswalk improvements are also being planned to make them more visible to motorists.

Learn more about the Pedestrian Safety Task Force online at https://cityofsunprairie.com/1399/Pedestrian-Safety-Task-Force or email Schleicher at aschlicher@cityofsunprairie.com.

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