Gjerswold requests stop sign on Walsh Street

    Although it doesn’t come up very often, City of Crookston Public Works Director Pat Kelly said this week that in order to “get the politics out of it” in favor of “rational thoughts,” various traffic-related complaints in the community that sometimes result in requests for more traffic controls like stop signs, a committee should be formed to address the requests when they come in.

    Kelly made his recommendation this week after Ward 6 City Council Member Cindy Gjerswold reported that she’d received complaints about traffic speeds on Walsh Street, and, specifically, asked that the addition of a stop sign at the street’s intersection with Fourth Avenue NE be considered.

    “People drive fast through there,” Gjerswold said. “Just seeing a sign would get people to slow down.”

    Kelly has long disagreed philosophically with the notion that stop signs are traffic-slowing devices. “As I’ve said over the years, stop signs are not meant to slow speed, they are meant to control traffic flow,” he said, adding that it’s unlikely that many motorists are speeding profusely in that area, either. “When you’re standing still on a curb, 30 miles per hour is fast, but that’s the legal speed limit on residential streets in Minnesota,” Kelly noted. “Still, I’ve heard it a number of times: ‘They’re going 65 miles an hour on my street.’ Well, no, they’re not. Thirty miles per hour is fast, I’m not arguing that, and people can get hurt. But I do think we need to take some of the emotions out of these decisions.”

    From his years of experience living in that neighborhood, Kelly added that he doesn’t think the traffic volume on the area warrants the addition of a stop sign. But, he said, a committee tasked with addressing this specific issue could look into it further.

    Kelly recommended that he sit on the committee, as well as Police Chief Paul Biermaier, a representative of the City’s engineering firm, Widseth Smith Nolting, and one or two council members.

    Biermaier said there are some things the CPD can do in the area Gjerswold and some of her constituents are concerned about. He said some “targeted enforcement” can be implemented there, and a squad car could be strategically parked to take note of vehicle speeds. Once some data is gathered, Biermaier said the CPD’s speed trailer could be placed in the area as well.

    Although it’s probably not necessary to place them on residential streets, the police chief did not the effectiveness of the digital speed sign on Polk County Highway 11 coming into Crookston near Drafts and Crookston Sports Center. It provides passing motorists a digital speed indicator as the 55 mph speed limit slows to 40 mph. “There are probably a few places in town with sufficient traffic numbers that could use them,” Biermaier said. “They’re spendy, but have a positive effect.”