Tremper and Frank traffic problems
Ted Batwinski spoke at last night’s Public Safety & Welfare Committee meeting about the traffic problems in front of Tremper High School. He is a resident since 1983, and he organized a petition of his neighbors who live from 27th Avenue to 30th Avenue asking that the speed limit be lowered to 25 mph in order to help slow traffic in front of Vernon Elementary School and Tremper High School. “Kids cross everywhere. Mailboxes have been hit by cars going around other cars. The police department has clocked cars going 85 mph down that street. The stop light at 26th Avenue only works for one hour in the morning, and one hour in the afternoon. The other times it is a flashing yellow light. People go through it because they’re not used to it being a regular traffic light,” said Batwinski. “People will still be doing 10 over; 35 mph is fast enough. We’ll need six signs to be changed lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25.”
“The other issue is when school gets out, there are three buses parked on 85th Street,” Batwinski continued. “About 85 students cross wherever they want to. Between 26th Avenue and 27th Avenue, signs are posted that no parking is allowed during school hours, from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm.” Batwinski’s proposal was to get rid of the three buses parking on 85th Street, move the bus shelter behind the portables, and get the buses off the street. He thought that the school would have a better chance of watching the kids, too. He suggested “No Parking, Standing, Stopping” signs be posted.
Alderperson Anthony Kennedy thanked Batwinski for the diligence he showed in his effort. “By moving the bus shelter, wouldn’t the kids still be crossing 85th Street for pickups?” asked Kennedy. “Not if we put signs up,” replied Batwinski. “Are four lanes of traffic necessary? Wouldn’t two lanes of traffic be a good thing?” Batwinski again replied, “No. There are people passing on the right. They are still speeding.” Kennedy stated that kids don’t want to walk by the crossing guards. “They’re too cool for that.” Batwinski stated that the other problem is that “parents wait on 26th and 27th Avenues to pick up their students. The kids cross at 27th Avenue like cattle with no guard. And, there are no lines painted on the concrete.” Kennedy promised that they would keep working on this to get a solution.
Alderperson Michael Orth stated that he works at Tremper and knows full well the problems Batwinski is describing. About three years ago, the traffic pattern was reconfigured around Tremper, making traffic go in a loop and having a one-way circle. They met with the School Board at that time. “There was a girl hit and severely injured back then. Fortunately, she survived and recovered. I was t-boned in October in that space,” stated Orth. “The problem with having the buses in the parking lot waiting is that they’ll have to wait 15 minutes to get back out onto 85th Street, and they have to go to the middle schools and pick up kids there. When they’re on the street, they are rolling, ready to go. Another possibility would be to line up on 26th Avenue. I know this is a real concern,” said Orth. Other possibilities discussed were putting a dip in the road or creating a path off the road where the buses could pull in. “Parents are told not to drop off their kids on 85th Street. They are told to go around and come in on 87th Street and up 26th Avenue, but they don’t listen. It’s more convenient for them to drop their kids off there, which only exacerbates the problem.” Orth agreed that the light should run all day long in order to create some consistency. “The other time that kids are out there is when they scramble for lunch. Plus, the high school has releases all throughout the day.” Discussions will start with the Transit Department, and the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) building-level administration. “I’ll let the new vice principal know tomorrow morning that we had this discussion. It’s just another accident waiting to happen.”
Chairman Jesse Downing summarized the directions to staff. “We need to look into lowering the speed limit, putting up signs, and the flashing light. We’re not going to make any changes now. Like we did at Lance, we’ll wait until the beginning of the school year. We need to do a speed study and talk with the Transit Department and with KUSD.”
Similar problems were discussed at Frank Elementary School. Mary Nichol and her daughter, Jennifer Stall, begged for an adult crossing guard at 18th Avenue and 56th Street. Nichol is a grandmother of students that attend that school. “Parents just park on the side and drop off their kids right there, and say, ‘Go, kids, go,’” said Nichol. “We’ve asked for this time and time again. We asked the prior mayor, John Antaramian, but he said that there was not enough traffic. But, it’s the quality, not the quantity. People are racing downtown. Our children don’t want to die. They sometimes wait for adults to come along and help them cross. It’s not a matter of if, but when. That is a very busy intersection.”
Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo was present and also spoke in favor of the need for a crossing guard. “We can’t put a stop sign there because of the t-intersection. It jogs around the corner. It’s a real problem. Again, it’s not a matter of if, but when,” said Ruffalo.
Orth asked if the principal, Heather Connolly, had been informed. Unfortunately, she was not present at the meeting; she had a banquet to attend. Ruffalo stated that he had discussed this issue with her, and she agrees. Orth said that this school has the highest percentage of kids who walk to school. “It’s probably 70% or greater. A crossing guard is not free. But, it’s worth more with kids walking. With it being mid-year, it won’t be easy. But, we need to figure it out. I agree that it needs to be met. We just need to figure out how.”
Again, Downing directed the staff to do a traffic study. He asked the deputy chief of police to do a head count and get back to the committee within the next month or so. “It won’t happen this year. Budgets are already done. Communications need to happen to the parents in school, during the before-the-start-of-school meetings. That’s when we could start.”