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Resident request may prompt speed study on County Road 51

In response to a request by at least one local homeowner for a lower speed limit along County Road 51 north of Perham, city councilors will be asking Otter Tail County to conduct a speed study.

The stretch of road at issue is in the Westwind housing area, close to Arvig Park and the golf course.

Anna Aakre, a Westwind resident, publicly raised concerns about the speed limit in a letter sent to city councilors, county commissioners, and the Perham Focus earlier this month.

In her letter, Aakre said the posted speed limits between Pinewood Lane and 450th Street are unclear and inconsistent, and go up to a too-high 55 mph.

“This is a populated area with many new homes and lots of children and people crossing County Road 51 to use the bike trail and park areas,” she wrote. “Even with the part of the road having a 30 mph limit, many drivers drive over the speed limit. Excessive speed and acceleration in this area makes pedestrian crossing of the road unsafe.”

Perham Police Chief Jason Hoaby said the speed limits along CR 51 were set years ago, before there were any significant housing developments on the northwest side of town. He surmised that, if a speed study were done today, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) would require a lower speed limit of around 30 mph.

“I would guess the 45 mph would be pushed out of town a bit more, but I don’t know for sure,” he said. “MnDOT would set the new speed according to (state) statute.”

The speed study will need to be approved by the county, and then sent on to MnDOT. Perham’s request to have the study done, Hoaby said, “is the first step in getting this process going.”

At a meeting Monday, city councilors unanimously agreed to make the request.

Hoaby said a county representative was prepared to discuss the speed study with councilors on Monday, after receiving resident requests for it, but then felt there was no need after seeing the matter was already on the meeting agenda.

No timeline was given as to how long it might take for the study to be approved and completed.

Marie Johnson
Marie Johnson (formerly Nitke) came to the Perham Focus after several years as the Education and Arts & Entertainment Editor at the Herald-Review of Grand Rapids, Minn. She lives in rural Ottertail with her husband, Dan, and their spunky yellow lab, Louisa.
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