By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– Travelers will drive a bit slower for a ways longer on Highway 965 north of Scales Bend Road.
The North Liberty City Council approved a speed limit change last Tuesday, Nov. 26. The speed limit in that location is currently 45 miles per hour, but changes to 55 just past the highway’s intersection with Pheasant Lane. The north-south thoroughfare is undergoing major reconstruction as part of the city’s Highway 965 improvement project. The Scales Bend intersection will be leveled and turn lanes will be added; part of that project required extending Pheasant Lane west to hook up with Highway 965, providing an additional access to the Aspen Ridge subdivision.
North Liberty Streets Superintendent Don Colony requested the 45 miles per hour speed limit be extended northward for increased safety.
In his written request to the council, Colony stated the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County (MPOJC) would be doing a speed study of the area in the spring, but that MPOJC director John Yapp had concurred with Colony’s recommendation.
Council member Chris Hoffman wondered why the change in speed limit couldn’t wait until then.
“We don’t traditionally do these (speed limit changes) off recommendations,” Hoffman said. “I don’t know if this is a critical thing to be done before next spring.”
Hoffman said he made a recommendation for a new speed limit on Front Street where it extends to Mehaffey Bridge Road a couple of years ago that wasn’t adopted, and other councilors had made similar requests in the past.
“I’m not necessarily disagreeing with it,” Hoffman added, but wondered if the city would face liability issues in changing the speed limit without conducting an official traffic study.
City Attorney Scott Peterson said he saw no increased liability if the city had justification to make the change.
Assistant City Administrator Tracey Mulcahey told the council the construction project has changed the road’s geography, “which changes that dynamic on 965,” she said.
City engineer Kevin Trom said since Pheasant Lane is now connected to the highway, a lot of cars are traveling toward the intersection at 55 miles per hour.
“I think that’s the concern Don has; it’s a safety issue with the high speeds,” said Trom.
The council unanimously approved the change.