Residents along Minot's 27th Street Northwest worry about their safety after seeing their residential road turned into a thoroughfare.
From handmade "slow down" signs to verbal requests of truck drivers to ease up on the gas, residents have taken the situation into their own hands after finding the city's limited efforts to slow or restrict traffic to be ineffective.
"There's so much traffic," said resident Angie Bonness. "It's constant all day long."
Jill Schramm/MDN • A handmade sign alerts motorists to slow down on 27th Street Northwest Monday. Residents object to their road becoming a thoroughfare.
Traffic began picking up last year when construction started on the Eagles Landing housing development in northwest Minot. Construction traffic has used 27th Street, and as homes became finished and occupied, the additional traffic also uses 27th Street.
The street, like most in the city, has a weight limit, but residents say they see loaded trucks that they believe are violating the limit. Trucks that are unloaded typically meet the weight limit and aren't restricted from the street.
Dan Jonasson, city public works director, said construction vehicles have alternate access to the north if they choose to use it.
"But it's a city street, and if they obey the legal limits, they have the right to use the road," he said.
The amount of traffic is not near as troubling to residents as the speed, though. They say violations of the 25 mph speed limit are common.
Leon and Darla Zeltinger posted handmade "slow down" signs in their yard earlier this month to express their dissatisfaction.
"I am tired of it. It's just absolutely ridiculous," Darla Zeltinger said. "This used to be such a quiet neighborhood. If there's added traffic, fine. But go the speed limit."
She added that she and her husband have picked up tin, sheet rock and other construction materials that have flown off trucks.
Speed also is a concern to people trying to back out of driveways and to parents. There are 45 children among the 41 homes along 27th Street.
"The thing that makes me the most mad is when you talk to the city, they say there's nothing they can do about it," Bonness said. "The answer they always say is, 'It's growth. It's traffic. It's everywhere.'"
Residents would like the city to conduct a traffic study.
City council member Amy Moen, who represents the area, said the city wants to wait until 19th Avenue is paved before doing a study. It is believed that once paved out to the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, 19th Avenue will take some of the traffic pressure off 27th Street. Paving work is under way and is expected to finish later this year.
Moen remains sympathetic to the residents' concerns, though.
"They are being as proactive as they can right now. They have tried to enforce what they can when the construction vehicles come up and down that hill," she said. "I live in that neighborhood. I do see the police going up and down the street, but the traffic has increased so much."
Moen said traffic remaining on 27th after Eagles Landing and 19th Avenue are completed may be controllable with strategic stop signs or other measures identified by a study.
Residents question whether traffic will be diverted west on 19th Avenue to the bypass, particularly if people want to go east or if they would need to make a left turn onto the busy bypass.
"I really don't think it will subside," resident Sharon Gange said. "From this point, I think it will just get worse. It's almost like it's too late."
Residents are battling development proposals that would add more traffic. One is the development of 38 homes west of 27th Street at Seventh Avenue and the other is an apartment complex south of Fourth Avenue Northwest near St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, which would increase congestion at the intersection of 27th Street and Fourth Avenue Northwest.
Resident Randy Bartsch said the existing congestion at the Fourth Avenue intersection is one of the biggest issues he sees associated with the traffic increase on 27th Street. Making a left turn onto Fourth Avenue is difficult at certain times of the day, and he doesn't see the situation getting better without some type of intervention.
"When the construction subsides and everything is developed, we are going to have just so much more traffic all the time," he said.