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Raffel Road (Wrong) Speed Limits

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Raffel Road (Wrong) Speed Limits

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
May 1, 2007

On Raffel Road from St. Johns Road to the north City Limit of Woodstock are several incorrect speed limit signs. Speed limits are posted higher than the applicable city ordinances call for. The City is looking into it.

In March I let the Public Works Department know that there appeared to be two speed limit signs missing on northbound Raffel Road. It’s just one of the things I “notice.” I don’t drive around, looking for what’s wrong or out-of-place; I just happen to notice these things. Generally speaking, speed limits on two-lane streets and roads are the same in opposite directions. If you are in a 40MPH northbound, then the speed limit is mostly likely 40MPH southbound on the same stretch of road. For some strange reason, I look at the other signs to see if they are.

But on Raffel Road they aren’t. I decided to check with the City for the legal speed limit description according to ordinances passed by the City Council, and so I initiated a request to the City Manager’s office. About two weeks later I received a nice note and copies of two maps that were prepared by the director of Public Works, John Isbell, showing the speed zones between St. Johns Road and the City Limit north of Ware Road.

Then I wrote to the Public Works Department to ask for a review of the existing signing. It seems to me that, when someone writes in and asks for a review of something, that ought to signal the reader that there might be a problem.

When there was no acknowledgement or response (or corrective action) from Public Works, I contacted the City Manager’s office and even faxed a diagram of the speed signs and the actual signing. I was pleased to receive the reply that signing would be reviewed and, if needed, correction would be scheduled when signs are available and the City’s schedule permits.

So what, exactly, is the problem? According to the map from the City, there are speed zones north of Banford of 35MPH, 40MPH and 50MPH.

The 35MPH speed limit for northbound traffic is almost at the point where the 40MPH zone begins.

A 40MPH zone exists between about Marge Lane and Ware Road, but it is marked with a 45MPH sign.

The 50MPH zone north from Ware Road is correctly signed.

For southbound drivers entering Woodstock there is a 50MPH sign north of Ware Road. According to the map, the speed limit drops to 40MPH at Ware Road, but there is no 40MPH sign.

The next sign that greets a southbound driver is a 45MPH sign at Marge Lane; however, that’s where a 35MPH speed zone starts. Confused yet? Imagine how the poor police officer feels.

There is a 35MPH sign in the middle of the southbound 35MPH speed zone and a correct 30MPH sign at the beginning of the 30MPH speed zone southbound.

Let’s say you drive into Woodstock from the north on Raffel Road. Like many people, you might be driving 5-8 MPH over the limit. You see the 50MPH sign, so you’re running about 58MPH. Suddenly there are bright lights behind you, and the officer informs you that you were traveling 58MPH in a 40MPH zone. “But the sign said 50,” you say. “Yeah, well, they’ve been meaning to change that,” he replies. "Sign here."

Could it happen?



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