Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Freeway Speed Limits A Danger?

Sudden changes in speed limits, outdated infrastructure cited as problems. County Board will investigate problem.

By - Jan 25th, 2021 06:22 pm
McKinley Interchange. File photo taken March 20th, 2013 by Jeramey Jannene.

McKinley Interchange. File photo taken March 20th, 2013 by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County may soon be advocating for a modernization of interstate infrastructure to improve traffic safety on the network of state highways that run through the county.

County Supervisor Russell Antonio Goodwin, Sr. recently sponsored a resolution intended to draw attention to an interstate network he feels is needlessly dangerous in some areas. His resolution calls for a universal speed limit for interstates in Milwaukee County, citing the patchwork network of speed limits that contribute to sudden changes in speed between vehicles and dangerous bottlenecks on the freeways.

Much of the state-owned interstate that passes through Milwaukee County has posted speed limits of 50 to 55 mph and in other areas it is 65 to 70 mph, but often these changes are experienced by a driver as a sudden drop in speed of 15 to 20 miles per hour. “It’s not just cars, these are semi trucks doing 70 to 80,” Goodwin said, that are hurtling into these slower sections of interstate and coming up behind vehicles driving at significantly slower speeds.

When Goodwin’s resolution went before the intergovernmental relations committee, he stated that he often sees these drops in speed limit go ignored, and this leads to stretches of highway with great variability in speed between cars on the road.

Donna Brown-Martin, director of the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation MCDOT, said this is due to outdated infrastructure throughout the county’s interstate network and laws governing speed limits in an “urban center.” In some places, she said, the design and geometry of the interstate in Milwaukee is 65 years old and long overdue for an update.

The northern end of the county’s interstate system from Menomonee Falls to Capitol Drive is a “key accident area,” she said, because it is one of the sections of highway that wasn’t designed for the speeds contemporary travelers are used to driving.

Brown-Martin said her department already works with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office on areas where infrastructure is creating regularly dangerous traffic.

Goodwin’s resolution, as it currently sits, asks the state to create a universal speed limit that would also apply to interstate that runs through the county. But, after suggestions from Sup. Tony Staskunas that the board investigate infrastructure challenges further and background information provided by Brown-Martin, it may become more than that.

The committee voted Thursday to hold the resolution back so the board can work with the Sheriff’s office and MCDOT on identifying problem areas in the network and also specific infrastructure changes that can be made to improve safety.

One thought on “MKE County: County Freeway Speed Limits A Danger?”

  1. Barbara Richards says:

    In the last century the federal government mandated a 55 mile per hour speed limit nationwide. We stood together and did that that until Reagan and Friedman took over. The reason for 55 was because of an oil embargo- limited oil supplies and we were to use less gas by driving at the optimum speed for fuel efficiency. We now are facing the collapse of our entire culture largely because of over use of fossil fuels to power our transportation – particularly cars. If safety is an issue and varied driving speed limits are a cause let’s make it 55mph everywhere and save a future for my grandchildren as well as your life on the expressway. Or perhaps we should expand the expressways and forget mass transit and hasten our demise??? Let’s forgo justice for essential workers who need transit to jobs, schools, shopping and health care and legitimize the haves having more and more and more!!!

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us