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Wheaton officials discuss potential speed limit study

WHEATON – Wheaton officials are continuing to talk about how to address speeding and other traffic problems in the city.

Wheaton engineering director Paul Redman recommended the city hire Rosemont-based engineering consultant KLOA Inc. to perform a city-wide speed limit study to determine if it would be appropriate to lower the speed limit to 25 mph on certain city streets.

The work would include speed surveys in seven separate zones throughout the city, evaluation of roadway conditions that may support lowering speed limits and recommended speed limits. The speed limit in Wheaton for residential streets is 30 mph as dictated by state statute.

City Manager Michael Dzugan said if the City Council were to decide to lower the speed limit on residential streets, it would then have to determine how to enforce the lower speed limit.

"That's a huge factor in this," Dzugan said in addressing the Wheaton City Council at a May 8 planning meeting. "If we lower the speed limit and we don't do any enforcement, it's not going to do any good."

Several residents spoke to City Council members about the need to lower the speed limit on their street. Taft Avenue resident Kara Kortum presented a petition signed by more than 600 people calling for a petition to lower the speed limit on that street from 30 mph to 20 mph.

The petition was started after Lincoln Elementary School kindergarten student John RuatPuia died after being struck by a car May 4, 2016, on Taft Avenue.

"The first anniversary of his death just passed, and it was a very hard day for our neighborhood," Kortum said. "But I'm glad that something is finally happening, and things are moving along. It's nice to see."

Cecilia Vangetson, who lives on West Franklin Street, told City Council members she was hit by a car three months ago while crossing a crosswalk.

"I looked both ways and no cars were coming, and a car just hit me out of nowhere," she said. "Distracted drivers are out there, and if we reduce the speed limit, I think it will help it to be a safer neighborhood for our kids... I have two kids going to Longfellow, and I don't feel safe letting them cross by themselves. So I think this will help a lot of families in our neighborhood."

Michael Billing, who lives on Gary Avenue, said a car almost hit his house. He said a stop sign needs to be installed at Wesley Street and Gary Avenue.

"Whatever you can do to slow traffic down, not just speed limits, I think should be part of this study you guys do," he said. "Because unfortunately, somebody is going to get killed. And unfortunately, it probably will be one of our children."

After a lengthy debate about whether a study was needed or if the city could just lower the speed limits on its own, the majority of council members agreed that any study needs to look at more than just speed as a way to improve traffic safety.

City Council members plan to discuss the issue again at a later date.

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