Traffic Control within the City of Hutchinson is a collaborative effort between the City Council, the Police Department and Public Works.
Traffic control device placement is based on recommendations of the Director of Police/Emergency Management Services, the Director of Engineering/Public Works and the Public Works Manager. Most traffic control measures are designed to comply with state and federal laws and regulations. Traffic control measures are implemented with a specific roadway project or by resolution of the City Council.
To report a traffic control issue or to make recommendations or requests for traffic control improvements, please contact the Public Works Manager.
John Olson, Public Works Manager
Phone: (320) 234-4219
Fax: (320) 234-6971
The following is a brief summary of some areas of traffic control with the largest number of questions.
Minnesota Department of Transportation – Roundabouts in Minnesota
Studies have not shown any indication that signs of this type achieve the desired safety benefits, showing little or no effect on speed or accident reduction. Since children live in virtually every neighborhood, signs could be posted in almost every block of the City, thereby losing their effectiveness. Additional considerations:
- Signs of this type may indicate that the street is an acceptable place to play.
- Drivers might assume that no children live where signs are not posted.
- There is no evidence or documentation that there is any legal consequence for this type of signing.
- A continual review of the need for the signs is not feasible (neighborhood demographics will change, when should signs be removed?).
Based on these issues, the City does not support the installation of these signs. Specific warnings for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities are available for use where clearly justified.
The City has many different rules regarding parking, based on the location of the parking and the traffic control devices in-place.
Some of the general parking regulations are:
- There is no parking in an alley (unless making a delivery) or on a boulevard that has curb and gutter.
- Trailers, pickup campers, etc. may not park on a street for periods exceeding 6 hours, and cannot be used as living quarters.
- Vehicles may not park in one place for more than 24 hours.
- A detached semi-trailer cannot park on any street.
- A truck, tractor/trailer over 10,000 GVW cannot park in a residential area except to load or unload.
- Vehicles cannot be parked on public streets for the purpose of advertising or selling the vehicle or any other merchandise or to advertise an upcoming event.
The City has installed “Share the Road” signs to indicate that the street is part of the city’s bike route system. There are also pavement markings installed on these routes. These routes generally do not meet the criteria for separate trails or bike lanes. These signs and markings are intended to increase awareness by drivers that bicyclists may be on the route, and to clarify to bicyclists that this part of the City’s bicycle route system.
The City does not have the authority to set speed limits on its own.
Speed limits are based on state statutes, and changing speed limits usually requires an evaluation by Mn/DOT. This evaluation requires a traffic study that looks at roadway conditions and layout, the land use in the area, accident records, and existing traffic speeds.
The maximum speed limits for passenger vehicles as established by Minnesota statute are, in general:
- Alleys: 10 mph
- Residential streets: 30 mph (school zones can be posted lower under specific conditions)
- Urban Interstate freeways, highways, and non-Interstate expressways: 65 mph
- Freeways outside urban areas: 70 mph
- Most areas not specifically noted otherwise: 55 mph
Although there is a strong feeling by many people that posting a lower speed limit will reduce speeds, research has indicated that people will drive at a speed that they are comfortable with, and are much more influenced by the appearance of the road and prevailing traffic conditions than by the posted speed limit. If speed limit signs are posted artificially low, many drivers will ignore posted limits while some drivers will stay within the posted limits. This creates a conflict between faster and slower moving drivers and an increase in the number of accidents. In addition, the number of gaps of traffic where crossings by pedestrians and cross traffic could be made are reduced.
Speed limits are maximums under ideal conditions. State law requires that “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable in regard to weather, visibility, traffic, and the surface and width of the roadway. Under no circumstances shall a person operate a vehicle at a speed that endangers the safety of persons or property.”
Information from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) on speed limits.
Although a stop sign can be a valuable and effective traffic control tool in the right place under the right circumstances, they can also be ineffective and dangerous in the wrong location.
A stop sign is intended to help drivers and pedestrians identify who has the right-of-way at an intersection. Although stop signs have often been installed to address nuisances or reduce speeds, they have not been shown to have any measurable effect. In fact they often reduce safety in areas where there is no warrant for the sign. Specific findings in studies to stop signs include:
- In locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, stop signs should not be used as a speed control device.
- When an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. This may result in conflicting actions caused by increased intentional violations and a false sense of an increased level of safety in the area and at the intersection. This situation can create tragic results.
Interesting Statistics from Mn/DOT Research:
- The percentage of vehicles that make a full stop dropped from 47% in 1931 to 19% in 1981.
- The percentage of vehicles that make a “rolling stop” has increased from 42% to 65% in the same time period, while flagrant violations have increased from 11% to 16%.
Also, although a stop sign is fairly inexpensive to install, its total ongoing cost can be significant. A typical stop sign will cost the following per 1,000 vehicles: $18000 in excess vehicle operation costs, 1400 hours of lost time, 3800 gallons of extra fuel, 8400 pounds of carbon monoxide emissions, 600 pounds of hydrocarbon emissions and 600 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions.
For these reasons, the City will be very judicious in where stop signs are placed. All requests will be reviewed by staff prior to submittal to the City Council.