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Paynesville Press - June 6, 2001

Citizens petition for improved safety on lake roads

By Michael Jacobson

A 30-signature petition asking for increased safety measures on County Road 181 and Lake Koronis Roads was brought to the Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors on Monday, May 29.

Citing the children who live along these roads, the visitors to these areas, and the summer pedestrian traffic on these roads, the petition asked for reduced speeds, warning signs, flashing crosswalks, and other safety measures.

A key concern on Co. Rd. 181 is increased traffic of town kids coming to the lake and township kids biking to school now that Spruce Street connects the road with the Chladek Addition, stressed Ann Friederichs, a township resident who organized the petition and presented it to the township board.

Spruce Street now connects with Co. Rd. 181 behind Gas Plus More, formerly Tom Thumb. This street extension was done last summer along with the street work for the Project 55 development. This is the first summer that it will be an alternate route to the lake.

Because it allows kids a way to bike without crossing a state highway, it will be a popular route, said Friederichs. That change - along with a recent accident on the road - prompted the petition for increased safety measures, Friederichs added. She said she spent only a couple hours collecting signatures and could have gotten many more.

The petition asked for speeds to be decreased on both Co. Rd. 181 and Lake Koronis Road. Caution signs and crosswalks with flashing yellow lights were also suggested.

Supervisor John Atwood cautioned that warning signs might not have much effect on getting speeding drivers to slow down or drive more cautiously. "That's false security for the people who live there," said Atwood.

The white and yellow lines on Co. Rd. 181 also need to be painted, according to the petition.

Other suggestions are to widen the shoulders on Co. Rd. 181 and make a larger bike path and to use inverted or grooved speeds bumps to slow traffic coming onto Lake Koronis Road.

Friederichs stressed the importance of making improvements for this summer. "We don't want to wait for the bike trail," she said. "If that's going to take years, we want something now."

The township has no jurisdiction over Co. Rd. 181, as it is a county road, but the board did appoint board chairman Don Pietsch to contact the county highway engineer, pass along the petition, and investigate the situation.

The township did work with the county to get the speed limit by the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds reduced to 30 mph, but a traffic count might be needed to justify such a change on the curves of Co. Rd. 181.

Reducing the speed on Co. Rd. 181 might help lower the speed on Lake Koronis Road.

The Paynesville Police regularly patrol Co. Rd. 181 to try to reduce driving speeds, said police chief Tony Schmitt in a telephone interview with the Press. "We write tickets there all the time," he said. "People tend to drive fast there."

The safety of the roads in Paynesville Township was an issue during the township's acquisition of Co. Rd. 124 (now Old Lake Road). Supporters of the acquisition used safety concerns as a reason for the takeover. Pietsch argued for the takeover because he felt the county's best offer of three-foot shoulders on Co. Rd. 124 - exactly like Co. Rd. 181 - was not adequate for safety.

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