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Mel-Min to install turn lanes in lieu of reduced speed limits in front of school

The DOT approved installing turn lanes in front of the new Melrose-Mindoro consolidated campus, but a reduced speed limit is a no-go.

The Melrose-Mindoro School District has announced there will not be a reduced school zone speed limit on Hwy. 108 in front of the new consolidated campus. The DOT instead would like to see turn lanes put in place.

“We have been working with the school district with regards to that new development and the issue has come up, but what we are trying to do is come up with a solution to accommodate the turns off of Hwy. 108 into and out of the school so that we don’t have to impede the traffic on 108,” Rick Tumaniec, traffic engineer for the DOT, said.

Del DeBerg, superintendent for the Melrose-Mindoro School District, was hoping for more options.

“We’d like to have both to be very honest,” DeBerg said about having a slower speed limit versus turn lanes.

Currently the speed limit in front of the school is 55 mph, which has always been a concern for Melrose-Mindoro residents.

DeBerg said that the district has been working on getting turn lanes for the school for several years, even before they began talking about bringing elementary children to the site.

Even though the speed limit will not be reduced, DeBerg said the turn lane is better than nothing and adds that he is hoping to at least get some flashing lights put up as a warning for the school ahead, which is currently being considered by the DOT.

“We wish they would. We still have young drivers, so anything making it safer would be better,” DeBerg said.

The school district would be responsible for paying for the new turn lanes, which would be an additional cost not originally in the plan for the project. DeBerg is not sure on the total cost of the turn lanes yet.

Moving all kids to the consolidated campus is expected to add 550 students to the school, which is expected to increase traffic in the area.

“I think it is probably a better solution given the fact that we are at a high speed, rural location and the fact that we are not really going to have pedestrian traffic into that school,” Tumaniec said.

DeBerg also said that the DOT is requiring the school district to make their driveways at least 500 feet apart. The main problem exists between the two driveways that feed the large parking lot.

Two options are currently being considered to meet these requirements.

The first option would move the first driveway towards the baseball diamond, while the other option would be removing the second driveway near the auditorium.

DeBerg is recommending to the school board to remove the second driveway because it would allow the other driveways to be widened to accommodate more turn lanes.

Moving the first driveway towards the baseball diamond would also produce a less favorable outcome because it would make the turn less manageable for the buses. The driveway would go directly next to the baseball diamond.

This decision will be made at the next school board meeting.


Jackson County Chronicle editor

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