Two public safety issues
Two discussion items were on tonight’s Public Safety & Welfare Committee meeting agenda. The first had to do with the crosswalks at Bullen Middle School, 2804 – 39th Avenue. Kim Fischer, principal of the school, was present and spoke on behalf of the school’s concern over speeding traffic north of the school now that 39th Avenue has been opened.
There was an accident there about six weeks ago, according to Kenosha police deputy captain Daniel Miskinis. Alderperson Anthony Kennedy brought this issue to the agenda based on the good work this committee did last year with Lance Middle School. Chairman Rocco LaMacchia recalled the pedestrian warning signs that were placed in the middle of 80th Street, which helped slow down the traffic going through that area.
Michael Lemens, director of public works, informed the committee that they are basically gathering information now. He stated that he had not been apprised of the situation. He has met with the administrative staff of the school.
Fischer relayed the details of a recent accident in which the young man was very lucky to still be alive today. He came away with a mild concussion and bruises. Back in the 2006/2007 school year, another young man was not so lucky. He ended up in a wheelchair. She came to the meeting to offer her support and provide her input. She just wants to make it safe for all of her students to cross 39th Avenue with the increase in traffic.
Alderperson Michael Orth said that there are two more meetings before public school begins. They are re-evaluating situations at this time. He stated that Officer Walsh has also been working on this. Orth suggested a partial position shift on crossing guards. He asked Miskinis to have some information ready for the second meeting in August. LaMacchia also said that increased police presence could be helpful.
The second issue had to with bridge clearances. LaMacchia stated that “truck drivers have been having a field day in Kenosha lately. There have been three accidents this year involving two bridges.”
Lemens stated that railroad bridges are not safe. He is not sure how the clearances were established. (Orth thought they were established back in 1927.) Lemens said that the railroads have little concern with these accidents because the beams that were hit were not structural beams. The drivers need to know the road clearances. Roadways are clearly marked. “Legally, we’ve done all we can. And, there have been more than two this year. Not every one gets reported.”
The last one had to do with a local trucking company. The driver had five years of experience. He knew about the bridge clearance. He destroyed the company’s trailer. “This is not a city issue. We do not have the responsibility to protect railroad property.” He did suggest possibly enhancing the signage at Sheridan Road.
The other bridge that was hit was not on the truck route. That driver had no business being on that road. Lemens said that it was suggested to lower the road on 60th Street with the current construction going on. “This is not possible,” he said, “because there are drainage issues. If we were doing a total reconstruction, it might be possible. But, because this is only a resurfacing project, it is not possible. We’d have to gain one whole foot to clear for all trucks, and that is not going to happen,” Lemens said.
Kennedy asked what we can do to start making the railroad concerned. “We expend the city’s resources to respond to these incidents. Can we charge the railroad?” Lemens said that that was something to explore. Lemens also said that the railroad company has agreed to make improvements of the Washington Road Bridge later this fall, possibly paint the bridge and repair the facie beam. Kennedy also suggested an l-shaped structure like fast food restaurants use.
Rollin Pizzala, a truck driver for 39 years, got up and spoke. He stated that additional signage would be the cheapest way to go. There is a new invention: an in-cab notice of height, but it costs $900, and that’s way too expensive. “Since truck drivers see signs all day long, possibly neon or solar signs would work better. They need to be put up before the main intersections.”