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Greenfield residents called traffic circle on Howard Avenue a hazardous obstruction

The caution sign reads “Traffic Calming Ahead” for a traffic circle in the center of Howard Avenue between 39th and 40th street in attempt by the city of Greenfield to reduce traffic speeds on Howard Avenue.

The caution sign reads “Traffic Calming Ahead” for a traffic circle in the center of Howard Avenue between 39th and 40th street in attempt by the city of Greenfield to reduce traffic speeds on Howard Avenue. Photo By C.T. Kruger

April 29, 2014

Greenfield — The little traffic circle that appeared last fall to help improve safety along a portion of Howard Avenue has caused a big uproar among residents who say it doesn't work.

It sends cars into snowbanks, and residents, guests and delivery people can't park in front of homes, they say.

The Greenfield Board of Public Works listened to resident after resident describe how life had become worse with the traffic circle, and how they want it gone. That can be done fairly easily, officials said, and the board will talk about the problem and other options on Tuesday, May 27.

The traffic circle can be described as a mini-round-about, but it is located mid-block and not at an intersection. Cars have to slow down to navigate around the circle located between South 39th and 40th streets and West Howard Avenue.

According to traffic data, the average traffic speed has decreased 5 percent, but the number of high-speed vehicles is down 17 percent, according to a report from Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt.

But if the current traffic circle isn't a palatable answer to slowing traffic down on Howard Avenue, city officials are determined to find a solution that is.

"I've been on the board for five years, and I've heard of this as an unofficial freeway," said Richard Mrochinski. Police measured the top speed at 69 mph during a week of speed tracking last June.

"To say that's unacceptable — that's an understatement," said board member Richard Kasza. "We can't just leave it."

Two options are likely to emerge May 27, Richard Sokol, director of neighborhood services, said after the meeting. One is putting raised crosswalks at the entrance to Zablocki Park at 40th and Howard, he said. The raised crosswalks are traffic humps that are broad and flat on top and tend to make cars slow down.

The other possibility is moving the traffic circle off center and a little more toward the park that lies along Howard Avenue, he said. There would be enough room for people to park in front of their homes, he said.

Putting stop signs in every block was pretty much dismissed because officials said the worst speeders ignore stop signs. More interest was shown in a resident suggestion for a flashing yellow light, although Ald. Pam Akers said she sees drivers ignore the flashing stop sign in front of the Law Enforcement Center.

"The people doing this, that's not going to stop them," Akers said.

Residents presented a petition they said was signed by 143 people.

"Even the mailman signed it," said Eleanor Doherty, because he has to walk a block to deliver mail.

Neighbors said the circle is actually a hazard.

"I fear for my safety if an eastbound driver could turn into my lane to go around," said Greg Kurzynski, who described seeing a driver who should have gone around the circle to the right. instead veered around to the left into the oncoming lane.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: next Boad of Public Works consideration of traffic calming on a portion of Howard Avenue

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 27

WHERE: Greenfield City Hall, 7325 W. Forest Home Ave.

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