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MnDOT approves final speed limits for Hwy. 23

SPICER -- The speed limit on state Highway 23 through Spicer will go up another 5 mph sometime in the next two weeks. The Minnesota Department of Transportation decided on the final speed limits for the new four-lane section of Highway 23, said J...

SPICER -- The speed limit on state Highway 23 through Spicer will go up another 5 mph sometime in the next two weeks.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation decided on the final speed limits for the new four-lane section of Highway 23, said Jon Henslin, MnDOT District 8 traffic engineer. The new limits will go into effect when the new speed limit signs are posted, which should happen in 10 to 14 days, he said.

Coming from the south, the speed will remain at 65 mph at the U.S. Highway 71-Highway 23 junction and continue at that limit until just south of United Prairie Bank in Spicer.

Then the speed limit goes down to 40 mph. Currently, there is a 45 mph zone when entering the city and the speed goes down to 35 mph before the first stoplight.

The 40 mph limit will remain in place until about 300 feet north of Medayto Avenue, then the speed limit will increase to 55 mph.

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The speed limit will go back to 65 mph north of the Nest Lake Bridge. Once the highway becomes a two-lane again, the speed will go down to 55 mph.

Now, there is a 45 mph zone between Spicer city limits and the bridge and then the speed limit is 55 mph.

MnDOT did a traffic study in mid-October to determine the final speed limits. The study monitored the speed traffic is actually traveling and considered sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, median size and accident rates.

Typically, the speed at which 85 percent of traffic is traveling determines the final speed limit. In Spicer, the average speed was 42 mph, Henslin said.

Some Spicer council members have raised concerns about increasing the speed limit through town.

At the council's Wednesday meeting, the council addressed the speed limit, although they didn't know yet if the speed limits had been finalized.

At the request of councilman Ron Schneider, the council unanimously agreed Wednesday to submit a letter to the transportation commissioner, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, requesting that the speed limit through Spicer not increase. If anything, the letter asks that the speed go back to 30 mph, which was the speed limit before the highway was completed.

Schneider said increasing the speed by 10 mph raises decibel levels by 3. He also referenced a study that says the risk of heart attacks increases in areas where sound is measured at 60 decibels or higher. He said MnDOT has measured sound at 70 decibels on Highway 23.

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Councilman Troy Block agreed the noise was a problem.

Several people think the speed limit is too slow, councilman Terry Holmquist said.

Councilwoman Marlys Larsen said she wasn't sure noise was a factor but wanted to keep the speed 35 mph or lower for pedestrians.

"We have safety factors," she said.

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