North Madison to see slowdown

Lower speed limits go into effect this morning, as will a new three-way stop.

The city will unveil new traffic revisions on North Madison Ave this weekend, preceding a broader overhaul of the two-mile stretch slated for next year.

The measures are a temporary solution to concerns over pedestrian and bicyclist safety on the north-end road.

“This is an interim project in response to community meetings last November,” said city engineer Bob Earl. “The issue of speed limits and safety along that corridor were expressed during those meetings. And we took it to heart.”

The changes lower the maximum speed limit on North Madison to 35 mph, and set a new limit of 25 mph between the Grange Hall and the junction with SR305. A four-way stop has been added at the intersection of North Madison Ave and Valley Road.

The revisions are a precursor to the city’s North Madison Non-Motorized project. The project, slated to break ground in 2008 and finish next summer, will see a shared bicyclist/pedestrian path along the North Madison expanse.

The path will run parallel to the road, separating into a sidewalk on the opposite side of the drainage ditch and periodically reconnecting with a widened shoulder on North Madison.

Earl said that the curve at the intersection of North Madison, 305 and Manitou Beach Drive was also slated for an overhaul to begin sometime in 2009.

Traffic revisions and path planning come on the heels of the North Madison Speed Study, which looked at the speed and volume of traffic along the road and recommended ways to ensure pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

“The data found that the road was operating safely at posted speeds,” said Earl. “But given community concerns, we’ve decided to go through with the recommendations.”

Statistics showed that four motorized accidents occurred in the past 12 months on the two-mile road, and that none of the accidents were caused or exacerbated by excessive speeds.

The city also conducted a license-plate survey to assess whether North Madison was being used as a back road to avoid ferry traffic.

“We found that there is some cut-through traffic on the road,” Earl said. “We think that if (those motorists) are given adverse effects on North Madison it will reduce traffic volume and funnel commuter back toward 305.”

Police will give motorists a one-week amnesty with the new speed regulations before enforcement, Earl said.

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