Grantsburg GRO Wants Crosswalk, Slower Highway Traffic Speed Through Village

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 | By Steve Briggs |

Members of Grantsburg Revitalization Organization (GRO) told the Grantsburg Village Board Monday night that GRO wants to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph on Highway 70 through Grantsburg from the current 40 mph. It also hopes to add a pedestrian crosswalk at the stoplight intersection (Hwy. 70 and Pine Street.)

GRO members Pam Davies and Kristina Kelley-Johnson said GRO's goals are to improve safety for walkers, reduce vehicle accidents, and, as a bonus, slow down drivers to get a better look at what Grantsburg has to offer. "Perhaps they will see we have a golf course, parks, a swimming pool," said village board member Caylin Muehlberg.

School Safe Zone

GRO would like to see a “safe school zone” added on Highway 70 where it intersects with Johnson Street, directly south of Grantsburg High School. 

GRO presenter and Librarian Kristina Kelley-Johnson said Grantsburg Schools Supt. Dr. Joni Burgin attended the recent GRO meeting. Dr. Burgin recalled incidents at the Johnson Street intersection where vehicles on the highway did not slow down quickly enough and had near misses with buses and with students. GRO would like to see the slower speed limit extended farther east of the village so cars will be traveling slower when they enter the school zone from the east.

Kelley-Johnson (above) said GRO wasn’t asking the board to change the highway speed or fix the safety problems. Instead, they asked if the board has similar safety concerns. Would the village board assist GRO in the review and change process with the DOT? The consensus among board members was yes.

Davies said the first step would likely be a DOT traffic study in the area to determine car counts and average traveling speed.

Adding a crosswalk

GRO member Pam Davies of Grantsburg said in order to qualify for the addition of a highway crosswalk at Pine Street and Hwy 70, a crosswalk must connect to two sidewalks. In Grantsburg, a sidewalk doesn’t exist along the highway's south side at this time.

Davies said, “We understand that adding turn lanes at the intersection will take a lot of time. “Maybe first and fastest would be to get the speed limit reduced. She said Siren has a speed limit of 35 mph along Hwy 70 in their village.

County Safety and Traffic Committee

Grantsburg Police Chief Jeff Schinzing joined the conversation. “Burnett County has a Highway Safety and Traffic Committee,” he said. “Where there are requests for speed zone changes, those matters come before the committee, which includes members of the state DOT to answer those concerns. 

“The county committee and state have looked for consistency in speed zones along Hwy 70 through the county. That’s why the speed zone was increased to 40 mph (from 35) in Falun and Alpha so it is the same in the county. It is 35 mph in Siren because of the heavier traffic and all the intersections with streets and businesses along 70 in that area.

“It’s a study process,” Schinzing added. “The DOT looks at the number of accidents — not near misses. A concern for us is the number of business driveways and streets in Grantsburg. The DOT would prefer to have a frontage road that limits the highway access.”

Village President Larry Ebersold agreed the village needed a crosswalk and sidewalk along the south side of Hwy. 70 at least from the Pine Street intersection to the Dollar General Store. He felt many vehicles were traveling through the village faster than 40 mph.

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