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No justifiable reason to close road

Feb. 24, 2010

After seven months of sometimes heated debate over whether to close a portion of Green Tree Road, it's time for River Hills officials to put the issue to rest by dropping any plans to shut down the street - even on a trial basis.

The matter first arose in July, when about 35 residents asked the Village Board to shut the road because of safety concerns. The road is located near the Glendale Market shopping center and Nicolet High School, and residents said traffic from speeding cars and large trucks poses a danger to those living in the neighborhood.

Trustees in November voted to close the eastbound lane to all traffic except emergency vehicles, buses and utility trucks. But now the Village Board is having second thoughts after the city of Glendale and the Nicolet School District filed a federal lawsuit to block the closure. And about 200 River Hills residents have signed petitions asking the village to reconsider its decision.

While we don't doubt that the concerns over safety that residents living on the street have raised, there are other ways to address those problems without taking the drastic step of shutting off access to a public road.

To deal with the speeding problem, the village could step up enforcement in the area or lower the speed limit. It could even ban commercial vehicles from the road because of concerns over truck traffic.

If River Hills decides to fight the lawsuit filed by Glendale and Nicolet, it will likely cost all three entities thousands of dollars in legal fees - fees that will be borne by local taxpayers in the middle of a recession. In fact, River Hills residents, who live in the Nicolet School District, could wind up paying the fees of attorneys on both sides of the case.

Glendale officials have expressed a willingness to work with River Hills to resolve traffic issues on the street. Indeed, a traffic consultant hired by the city to study Green Tree Road has come up with several solid suggestions that could address most concerns.

And, that study showed there have only been 10 accidents on that stretch of Green Tree over a nearly four-year period.

That's not to say that speeding isn't a problem, however. The consultant's study showed that more than 50 percent of the motorists on the road are exceeding the legal limit.

But closing Green Tree Road would be a gross overreaction to a problem that could dealt with in other ways.

What do you think?

Agree or disagree with us, we'd like to get your take on the Green Tree Road issue. Here are two ways you can weigh in:

→ Write a Public Forum letter of 400 words or less and e-mail it to news@cninow.com. The letter deadline is 10 a.m. Monday.

→ Visit GlendaleNOW.com or RiverHillsNOW.com and participate in our interactive forum on this topic.

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