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Elm Grove considers ways to slow down traffic

July 15, 2014

After fielding residents' concerns, an Elm Grove panel is in the process of reviewing a so-called traffic calming policy that will be aimed at reducing motorists' speeds along heavily traveled roads.

The village's Public Safety Committee on July 10 discussed the merits of the proposal but did not take any action. Instead, committee members requested data for traffic counts and average speeds.

The committee's recent review with Police Chief Jim Gage came after residents living along Watertown Plank Road implored the village board to take steps toward controlling traffic along one of the village's most heavily traveled roadways.

Anecdotally, village officials have claimed that speeding has, at times, been 20 to 30 miles over the speed limit.

"We all know that there is a problem along Watertown Plank," said trustee Jack Nelson, who chairs the committee.

Gage discussed with the committee the basic framework for creating a traffic calming policy. As a first-step in the process — having a village-specific document on hand — the committee asked Gage to compile data and report back at an August meeting.

Possible steps

While nothing is official, the village could take a number of steps within the policy to mitigate traffic concerns.

Possibilities include installing "Do Not Enter" or one-way signs in areas of concern; installing pavement markers; ramping up police enforcement; and making greater use of speed trailers. On the more intense end of the spectrum, village roadways could be redesigned to slow down the flow of traffic.

Local philanthropic organizations, such as the Elm Grove Community Foundation, could be asked to assist with some or all of the funding so the projects do not wind up being fully tax-funded.

"I'd really like to see some data before we make any decisions," said committee member Gus Moulas, who retired nearly a year ago as the village's assistant police chief. "I think we should have more information before we go to the foundation with a request."

Gage said the department can use an obscure device that will collect data. Unlike a speed trailer, the device Gage proposed would not be readily visible to motorists and would be aimed at collecting raw data.

Prior to the committee's next meeting, Gage said he can assemble a report and share findings with the group.

"I think you will be happy with it," Gage said. "It will have graphs and different details. I think it will help us in determining how robust the policy has to be."

Not just speed

While speed is the focal point of the traffic calming discussion, village officials say there are other reasons for having such a policy in place.

Traffic diversion onto residentrial streets, and a better experience for pedestrians and bicyclists were among the other issues discussed.

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