Mount Vernon Looking to Slow Drivers Down with Speed Signs

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

Traffic passes through the new roundabout at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 30 and on Thursday, October, 31, 2013 in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Two newly opened roundabouts, intended to reduce rush hour traffic congestion along Highway 30 through Mount Vernon, have seen some teething issues. Drivers have been observed stopped in the middle of the circles or rounding them in the wrong direction. City officials says they expected some confusion to begin with as people adjust to the roundabouts, and say the traffic flow has improved markedly since they have been in operation. (Adam Wesley/Gazette-KCRG TV9)

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By Forrest Saunders

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - Ask around, Mount Vernon drivers said eastbound cars and trucks are zooming into town on Highway 30, speeding through a 35 mph zone and into the new roundabout at 10th Ave.

Mount Vernon Police blame the speeding on a quick transition from a 55 zone to a 45 to a 35. But, they hope adding a solar powered speed sign will help by showing drivers how fast they're going.

"This is hopefully just going to get the attention of the people as they enter the roundabout and get them to slow down," said Police Chief Mark Winder.

Similar signs are commonplace on Iowa roads. Officials said their signs differ by flashing speeds at drivers, then recording them. Not to issue tickets, but to give authorities data on how many are speeding and how fast they're going.

Police have had one sign in place east of town, before the intersection of Highway 30 and Country Club Drive, since May. Authorities showed KCRG what the unit picked up in a week's time. The sign stands in a 55 mph zone and caught almost 1,700 speeders. Most were five or less over the limit, but more than 100 were over 60 mph. The highest speed recorded was 146 mph.

“They're speeding, but they're not speeding excessively. I guess it's doing what it's supposed to do," said Chief Winder.

In the long run, Chief Winder hopes the new sign near 10th Ave. will help make a permanent change to Highway 30. He thinks the sign's data, along with a spring speed study, will sway the Iowa DOT into extending the 35 mph zone leading up to the roundabout, giving drivers more time to slow down before reaching Mount Vernon.

Police hope to have the new sign installed before January 1st. Each unit costs more than $4,000.

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