FD Council splits on speed limit changes

Moehnke, Alstott vote against measure that would slow traffic

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Traffic moves east along Kenyon Road past a speed limit sign. The Fort Dodge City Council is considering lowering the speed limit on Kenyon Road and Fifth Avenue South.

A divided City Council moved on Monday to slow down traffic on three major roads in Fort Dodge.

The council voted 4-2, with one member absent, to approve the first reading of a measure to lower the speed limit on Kenyon Road, Second Avenue South at the Karl King Viaduct and Fifth Avenue South between Eighth and 21st streets.

“The intent is not to try to write more tickets,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said. “We’ve noted issues with speed and crash data. It wasn’t something that was dreamed up one day.”

The proposal would lower the speed limit on Kenyon Road from U.S. Highway 169 to Eighth Street to 35 mph. The speed limit there is now 45 mph.

It would also lower the speed limit on Second Avenue South from U.S. Highway 169 to Third Street to 45 mph. The speed limit there is now 50 mph.

Additionally, the speed limit on Fifth Avenue South between Eighth and 21st streets would be reduced to 30 mph. Most of that stretch now has a 35 mph speed limit, except for a section near the former Fair Oaks Middle School, where the speed limit is already 30 mph.

The proposal must be approved by the council two more times to become law.

City Engineer Tony Trotter said there were more than 300 crashes along Kenyon Road in the last five years. He said the city has received letters from officials of Iowa Central Community College, Friendship Haven and UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center requesting a reduction in the speed limit there.

Bemrich said people have complained to him about having trouble pulling out of the Friendship Haven driveway because of the fast-moving traffic.

Councilman Terry Moehnke suggested that the council consider the speed limit on Fifth Avenue South after the traffic lights there have been synchronized.

He said he believes there are things that can be done to improve safety on Kenyon Road. He called for putting up more speed limit signs, enforcing the existing speed limit, installing flashing lights to warn drivers of the traffic signal at Avenue C and building a turning lane at the entrance to Friendship Haven.

Moehnke said he is not in favor of changing the speed limit because he believes those other things can be done.

Councilman Kim Alstott said when he reviewed some accident statistics, he concluded that there are three crashes a year on the section of Second Avenue South where the reduced speed limit is proposed.

“I cannot justify dropping the speed limit for three accidents a year,” he said.

Alsott and Moehnke voted against the proposal.

Councilmembers Dave Flattery, Jeff Halter, Dean Hill, and Lydia Schurr voted for the proposal.

Councilman Neven Conrad was absent.