Traffic Commission Mulls 200N Speed Limit, All-Way Stop

Drivers used to traveling 55 mph on CR 200N between North CR 100E and U.S. 30 will have to learn to slow down.

It’s 30 mph now, and thanks to a unanimous vote by the Warsaw Traffic Safety Commission on Wednesday, a recommendation to the Common Council will ask for that to become the posted speed limit.

The stretch of road was 55 mph when it was in the county, but it was part of the area north of U.S. 30 the city annexed in as part of the Airport Industrial Park within the last two years. City roads without speed limit signs posted are 30 mph, but the Commission voted to make it 30 mph with posted signs.

Traffic Commissioner Lance Grubbs started the discussion Wednesday by stating the board was asked to review the speed along CR 200N.

Mayor Joe Thallemer explained how the city annexed that part of CR 200N in and said, “Without it being in ordinance form, it’s now 30. Everything that is not marked in the city is 30. The discussion was what? Does it need to be 30? Are there areas that maybe we should step it down a little bit instead of going straight from 55 to 30?”

City Planner Jeremy Skinner said he received an email from Grubbs and Staci Young, assistant to the mayor, and told them he thought the Traffic Commission had already handled it as there was six months of discussion on stop signs, speed limits “and the whole nine yards” last year. He said they had the ordinance, but it was never taken to the Common Council as a recommendation.

“Sometime in July, we kind of finalized what we wanted to present. It was sent to (former Traffic Commissioner) Steve (Foster) and myself, and then neither one of us preceded to take it to the council from there,” Skinner said, adding that he gave the Commission the ordinance that was written up by city attorney Scott Reust. The Traffic Commission never officially voted on that ordinance. “So we can either review it, and take the next month to review it, or we can review it today and pass it on and I’ll put it on agenda for the city council.”

He said the ordinance identifies the one-way streets, stop signs, speed limits and everything else within the annexed area. “We had, on CR 200N from U.S. 30 to Boeing, the speed limit shall be 35 mph. From Boeing to 100N, it will be 45 mph. So that’s the recommendation we were making at the time in July of last year,” Skinner said.

Council President Jack Wilhite said the way he understood it, one of the things that held up the ordinance from going to the council was a question of if four-way and three-way stops should be labeled as such or as “all-way” stops. He said he thought state code now requires them to be labeled as all-way stops.

Skinner said that was not addressed in the copy of the ordinance that he had, which “looks like it’s pretty much a carbon copy of the existing structure of the city’s ordinance now.” If the ordinance needs to reflect the stops as being all-way stops, he said they’d need to go back and change the existing city code to reference “that type of language” because currently it just references one-, two-, three- and four-way stops, not all-way stops.

Wilhite asked, “Is the state actually stating now that we need to make those all-way stops, and if so, we have to take care of that, right?” Skinner said that might have been the conversation that Foster and Street Superintendent Jeff Beeler had.

Thallemer said that ordinance was submitted to Reust. Skinner said he thought Foster had presented to Reust what was in the ordinance, and Reust sent it back to Foster and Skinner but Skinner said he didn’t know why, unless there was a conversation behind the scenes about all-way stop language. If the Commission wants to amend the language in the 200N ordinance regarding stops, Skinner said all of the section in the city code regarding three- and four-way stops has to be amended.

Thallemer said in discussions he’s had with officers, they came to the same conclusion as the ordinance that 200N from U.S. 30 to Boeing would be 35 mph and from Boeing to 100N it would be 45 mph. “It wouldn’t just drop to 30 mph the whole way, maybe it would be to step it in. As that develops out there, then move to 35 mph the whole way,” he said.

Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker agreed, saying that the way the ordinance was written was appropriate and it could be evaluated later as the area develops.

Julianne Divine, director of Growing Kids Learning Center along CR 200N, said she was the person who brought the speed limit on the road to Young’s attention.

“I have parents complaining that cars are just flying down the road, just past that hill and around that curve, and since a lot of our parents are having to slow down and then wait or stop to turn in to our Center, it’s posing a risk and making them nervous because they sometimes have to wait and cars will just come flying up and stop. So we’re really hoping that 30 or 35, especially right there, could stick just because all of our yards are all fenced in and everything, but because we could have up to 200 kids there, it was a huge concern for us,” Divine said, especially since the speed limit is not posted and vehicles are going “really fast” there.

Growing Kids opened up at 298 E. CR 200N in June. Thallemer said the ordinance came about at around the same time the Center was opening. He asked the Commission if, given the Center has since opened along 200N and the Warsaw Schools bus garage is next to that, should the speed limit there be 30 mph and go to 45 mph after there.

Whitaker said he didn’t know if 5 mph made much a difference, “and if we’re going to eventually take it down to 30, I guess I wouldn’t disagree with 30 from that point on.”

Skinner said there’s no speed limit posted, but without an ordinance the police wouldn’t be able to enforce it anyway. Thallemer said they could enforce 30 mph because that doesn’t need an ordinance. Grubbs suggested a speed limit sign needed posted because drivers coming out of the county into the city may not know that portion of 200N is in the city and the speed limit drops to 30 mph. Skinner agreed it needed posted.

Beeler, who arrived later in the meeting,  said if all travel directions stop, then the stops have to be “all-way” stops. The state changed that about seven years ago. Thallemer said the city needs to update its city code language then as soon as possible.

After some further discussion on the speed limit on 200N – including stepping down the speed limit, advance warning signs and future improvements to the intersection of 200N and Husky Trail, including a roundabout – Councilwoman and Commission member Cindy Dobbins made a motion to post 30 mph speed limit signs on 200N, and it passed unanimously.

Grubbs asked if as soon as the city limits sign goes up, if the 30 mph could be enforced. Whitaker said that was correct and probably would be done “sooner rather than later.”

After further discussion on all-way stops and the city code, Dobbins made a motion to recommend to the Common Council that the city code be updated to reflect the changes regarding three-way and four-way stops transition to all-way stops. That motion also was approved unanimously.

The next Traffic Commission meet is at 1 p.m. March 31 in the city council chambers.