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County officials look at ways to improve safety along two-lane farm roads

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Farm roads with limited shoulders in rural St. Charles County were not designed to handle high traffic volumes and high speeds. And traffic and speeds are on the rise on two-lane rural roads as new homes are rising from what were farmers fields in parts of the county. That concerns farmers who still live there and new residents.

County officials are trying to develop new traffic regulations to safeguard children living along those roads and limit accidents involving tractors and other farm equipment that still use these roads to move between fields. However, changing traffic regulations to alter speed limits or add stop signs are drawing a mixed response from residents, who wonder if the regulations are too much or not enough.

Some of those comments could be heard at the first of two public hearings before the St. Charles County Council at its Jan. 7 meeting. A second hearing on those regulations is scheduled before the council on Jan. 28.

Those hearings are on four three-way stop sign requests – at Deer Creek Drive and Fawn Creek Lane intersection, at Sawyer Boulevard and Innisfree Drive, at John Meyer Drive and Mark Korte Lane; and at Shoshone Trail and Arapahoe Way. There also are four speed limit increase requests – from  35 mph to 45 mph on Foristell Road from the western New Melle city limits to Route T; on Morrison Lane from Foristell Road to Route N; on Sneak Road to Oberhelman Road to Route T; and on Oberhelman Road from Sneak Road to Foristell Road.

At the Jan. 7 hearing, the requests drew a mixed response from eight residents who were largely opposed to the speed limit increases but were in favor of more stop signs.

Terry Lupkey, who spoke on a proposal to establish a three-way stop at the John Meyer Drive and Mark Korte Lane intersection, said more stop signs were needed. Twenty-eight new homes are being built in the area, which may add 60 or more vehicles using John Meyer Drive.

“This has become a race track,” Lupkey said. Kids are riding bicycles and some traffic is traveling at high speed along the road. He said he would like to see several stop signs along the drive. “I’m just afraid some kid is going to get killed the way people are driving along this street.”

Felisha Davis and Shannon Panagos, who live along Shoshone Trail where a three-way stop has been proposed at the Shoshone Trail and Arapahoe Way intersection, asked the council to come up with ways to resolve what has been “an ongoing, terrifying problem before someone gets hurt.”  Solving that problem could involve more signs, more traffic enforcement, or even speed bumps, she said.

“We have young children who we cannot even allow to go grab the mail,” Panagos said because of traffic going up and down the street. She said there had been 10 traffic incidents on the street in the 14 years she and her family have lived there. Additionally, she said the 2.9-mile section of Morrison has no shoulders, is hilly, has 13 driveways and is used by tractors and farm equipment.

“It is not a road conducive to people driving 45 mph,” she said.

Steve Burt and Don Meyer spoke in favor of increasing the speed limit. Meyer said he favored the speed limit on some of the streets being raised and that 45 mph is reasonable and appropriate in an area that is seeing more growth. However, Sabrina Loreen said she and 21 other Morrison Lane residents are “vehemently opposed” to increasing the speed limit on Morrison Lane from Foristell Road to Route N. She said driving that 2.9-mile stretch takes 5 minutes, at 45 miles an hour it takes 3.9 minutes. “So you can’t spare a minute or more to keep things safe?” she asked.

Joe Rezyeky spoke on a proposed three-way stop at the Deer Creek Drive and Fawn Creek Lane intersection not in opposition but in favor of what the county could do in slowing down traffic.

He said he lives at “15 Deer Creek Racetrack, I’m sorry, Deer Creek Drive,” which drew a few chuckles from the audience. “Now I’ve got grandchildren, and I’m kind of concerned about them playing in the yard,” Rezyekz said, adding that he favored several stop signs on Deer Creek Lane.

Dianne Sudbrock said she opposed raising the speed limit to 45 mph on Oberhelman Road and other roads because of fears that drivers who may travel faster than a new 45 mph speed limit. Raising speed limits may allow drivers to assume they can drive 50 or 55 miles per hour, which is too fast for these roads, she said.

The roads have hills and limited sight distances. She said she also feared the farm traffic.

“My husband is a farmer. People drive like crazy around farm traffic. The yellow lines don’t mean anything. They pass you on hills, they pass you on curbs, they’ll drive in a ditch to get around you; it’s nuts,” Sudbrock said.

“This is still a farm area, so I don’t think raising the speed limit to 45 miles per hour is a smart thing to do,” Sudbrock said. “Maybe 40 but start with that and see how it goes.”

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