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Grand Forks leaders put brakes on speed limit changes

Right here, right now, isn't the right time to lower Grand Forks speed limits, City Council President Dana Sande said Wednesday. Sande's remarks came just after city leaders nixed an item on Monday's council agenda lowering speed limits on Washin...

City Council President Dana Sande listens during a council meeting on March 20, 2017, held at Grand Forks City Hall. (Herald photo/SamEaster)
City Council President Dana Sande listens during a council meeting on March 20, 2017, held at Grand Forks City Hall. (Herald photo/SamEaster)

Right here, right now, isn’t the right time to lower Grand Forks speed limits, City Council President Dana Sande said Wednesday.

Sande’s remarks came just after city leaders nixed an item on Monday’s council agenda lowering speed limits on Washington Street, 32nd Avenue South and Columbia Road. It previously received a committee vote on Monday evening, when city leaders voted 6-1 to develop a policy regarding future speed limit changes, according to city staff.

He added that constituents have been highly opposed to the speed limit changes, which would drop large sections of the three streets from 40 to 35 mph.

“There are a lot of things going on in the city that are more important than adjusting our speed limits,” Sande said, adding that public response on the matter has been intense. “I personally have received significant amount of emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, text messages, from our citizens saying that they don’t want us to change our speed limits and saying that perhaps our data was flawed.”

The speed limit changes proposed in a city memorandum would decrease limits on portions of Washington Street from 35 to 40 mph and along 32nd Avenue South’s commercial corridor. There are slightly different changes to limits on North Columbia Road near the railroad overpass and just south of Gateway Drive.

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Monday’s vote came after a roughly hourlong discussion during a meeting that lasted nearly four hours. Sande said that his remarks following the meeting explaining that city leaders had offered early approval to the changes themselves was made in error, which he attributed to a long, fatiguing meeting.

The announcement that the item had been pulled from consideration included comment from Mayor Mike Brown, who said the city will instead “focus on fixing potholes and making sure our roads and city are open for business.”

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