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Brown Co. board puts brakes on N. Highland speed study

On Highland Ave. near Broadway, KC Road intersection

NEW ULM — By a 4-1 vote Tuesday, Brown County commissioners nixed a speed study request on CSAH 13 (North Highland Avenue) near the Broadway intersection.

Commissioner Scott Windschitl cast a dissenting vote on the measure brought forward on a motion by Commissioner Brian Braun, seconded by Dave Borchert.

In January, Windschitl said he’d like to look at a speed study with the possibility of increasing the speed limit to 45 mph for the new section of CR 13 with a 30 mph limit.

Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens said radar speed data could be reviewed to determine traffic speeds on the road. He said a speed study could be done by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) District 7 Traffic Engineer’s office based in Mankato.

New Ulm Police heard a number of speeding complaints on the new portion of North Highland Ave. after it opened in the fall of 2022. Police put a digital speed limit sign that flashed a light on northbound traffic moving at more than 30 mph.

The posted speed limit is 30 mph but 70% of traffic exceeded the speed limit, according to a speed data for northbound traffic recorded by a 2023 radar sign.

Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens said 2023 radar sign speed data showed 70% of traffic, about 1,900 vehicles a day, exceeded the 30 mph speed limit on North Highland. Stevens said the MnDOT District 7 traffic engineer would require the County to post the speed limit to whatever a speed study determined the speed limit to be

“I don’t like the State deciding this (speed limit). I prefer the City and County,” said Commissioner Tony Berg.

Commissioner Dave Borchert said his day job is New Ulm Police Chief. He said there were 83 speeding citations on the new part of North Highland Ave. in 2023 and 34 citations so far this year.

“I’m concerned about vehicle weight and speed. There are many kids in the area with future development,” he added.

“I live on Broadway, Raising the speed limit is not good for the community. I think it’s irresponsible. I’m for local control,” Borchert said.

“We’re here to consider a speed study, not raise the speed limit. I’m in favor of safety as well. I’m just trying to get the best use of the road. There are many speeding tickets issued. I saw one issued (there) Saturday. I want to do what’s right,” said Commissioner Windschitl.

Public input was heard on the possibility of performing a speed study Tuesday. A number of people said they opposed a speed study for the road in the interest of safety.

New Ulm City Engineer Joe Stadheim said raising the speed limit on the road would be counter-intuitive to healthy living.

Carol Weikle said she lives in the area being discussed.

“I observe excessive speed and poor driving habits. I see kids trying to cross the road on the bike trail a lot. Cars are going way too fast. If I have to stop for a vehicle, I’m going to get hit,” said Weikle.

New Ulm 2nd Ward City Councilor Eric R. Warmka weighed in.

“Originally, I was for a speed study. After sitting at the intersection, the fear is 35 mph means 55 mph,” Warmka said.

Carol Kramer of Gibbon said she felt people who live in Gibbon but work in New Ulm need a higher speed limit due to lots of traffic.

Nate Zabel who lives on the KC Road, said he’s against higher speeds.

“It’s very dangerous. I have to stop to go on the KC Road. The intersection is very blind.”

After the speed study issue failed, Windschitl said he’d like to look at adding turn lanes to the intersection. He said adding a roundabout was not feasible due to costs of several hundred thousand dollars.

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