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September 22, 2017

8/23/2017 1:54:00 PM
Slow down in zone
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

Last week I had the chance to catch up with Sheriff Steve Michek while the Iowa County Board of Supervisors convened in closed session at their monthly meeting. Sheriff Michek explained how he had attended a meeting in Ridgeway just before he came to the county building; the meeting was in reference to the U.S. 18/151 Ridgeway Interchange project, which the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) began on July 24. The project includes the construction of an interchange to replace the intersections at Cemetery Road, County BB, Ridgevue Road, Prairie Road and County HHH (the road that leads into Ridgeway near the pine relict).
WisDOT is scheduled to have the project completed by November 2018. Unfortunately, the project isn't even a month in and law enforcement is already reporting problems in the four-mile area that encompasses the construction zone on 18/151.
Apparently there are a handful of people who do not agree with a 55 mph slowdown on the four-mile stretch of the construction zone. One of those people even confronted Sheriff Michek about the reduced speed at the Ridgeway meeting.
"I figured it out and slowing down to 55 mph in the construction zone adds 38 seconds to a commute," Michek said, encouraging commuters to leave just a mere ONE MINUTE earlier to accomodate the traffic slow down.
Some have argued that the 55 mph speed decrease is okay during the daylight hours, but told Sheriff Michek that it should be returned to 65 mph during the evening as "no workers are on the road at night." I'd ask these people to walk through the project schedule with me: Stage 1 of the project, slated for this fall, includes moving traffic to outside lanes (changing the traffic pattern); Stage 2, which is slated to begin in the spring, will continue to move traffic to accomodate construction. Summer of 2018 will see another change in the traffic pattern; detours will also be posted for several roads, which could cause some minor confusion, and then Stage 4 will wrap up the project in the fall of 2018.
It seems silly to me to think some are up in arms about a 10 mph slow down, put in place to protect not only those construction workers on the roads but all the other drivers who will need to continue on with life as the project progresses.
Changing the speed limit back to 65 mph at night seems the most illogical to me as soon the road will be lit with orange barrels and flashing signs to help motorists navigate through the construction zone. Do we really need people flying through this area at 65+ mph?!
Deputies have been pulling speeders (an incredible amount of them) over in this four-mile stretch of construction zone. Sheriff Michek made it very clear that law enforcement is monitoring activities in this area - it is no secret.
Please, please, please slow down in this construction area - and in any construction area. Put the phones down and pay attention - whether it is at night or in the middle of the day. Save yourself a ticket - and possibly a life.

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