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Township moves forward with local speed limit reform



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October 19, 2011 - Atlas Twp.-The township board voted 4-1 to support a resolution for legislation to allow local governments to set or reinstate speed limits on gravel roads. Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones, Treasurer Ann Marie Slagle, Clerk Tere Onica and Trustee Paul Amman voted for the resolution. Trustee Barry June voted no.

"I don't support this because it provides a carte blanche to speed limits for municipalities," said June. "There needs to be a pattern. The speeds will be all over the place in the township. Nothing will stop municipalities from setting speed traps."

Rep. Brad Jacobsen (R-Oxford), Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake) and Hugh Crawford (R-Novi), co-authored House Bill No. 4037, which encourages reduction of speed limits on dirt roads. The bill will make it possible for local governmental bodies to set or reinstate speed limits on gravel roads according to road conditions, topography, and traffic patterns which are known best by individuals residing in the locality instead of mandatory calculations.

"If you live on a gravel road there's a need for the local control," said Kautman-Jones. "Use some logic when setting the speeds—I'm not suggesting piecemeal. As it is, people are driving 70 miles per hour down those roads. Also, I don't think the people in Lansing should make a decision on speeds in our communities. We understand the general characteristics."

A revised state law, enacted by the state legislature in March 2006, increased the speed limit on roads previously posted at 25 mph to 55 mph—even in residential areas. The township has about100 miles of dirt roads.

Rick Misek, township planning commission chairperson who also raced automobiles for the Sports Car Club of America for more than a decade, supports the resolution.

"When I drive on the dirt roads I never do more than 35 miph," he said. "Three things impact how fast a motorist can drive: the person who built the road, tires and God. It's simple—you just don't have a great deal of traction on dirt roads. About 35 miles per hour is the very most one should drive. Even slower if the road needs grading. However, there are many on Atlas Township roads that drive 55 (mph). I don't care what speed limit you post, people need to drive at a safe speed. You don't need a law to have common sense. Some people just never find that common sense. I know people are in a hurry but a kid on a bike, someone out for a walk or just out getting the mail should not be put at risk."

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