A city committee is recommending a permanent stop sign be placed at an intersection near downtown Union, but not all aldermen are on board with the decision.
The personnel, finance and public works committee Monday night recommended a stop sign at Church and State streets be made permanent. There was a 4-2 vote recommending the change to the full board of aldermen.
Aldermen Paul Arand and Karen Erwin voted against the recommendation. Aldermen Dale Schmuke, James Albrecht, Vicki Jo Hooper and David Pope voted in favor of the recommendation.
In late September there was a four-way stop sign installed at Church Street and East State Street for a 90-day probationary period, which comes to an end this month.
Prior to Sept. 23, there were stop signs for traffic on eastbound and westbound State Street only.
The stop signs were added after representatives from Oltmann Funeral Home approached Union aldermen requesting the sign to slow traffic in front of the business. The funeral home is located just south of the intersection.
Funeral home owner Keith Oltmann said the intersection marks the start of the downtown business district.
“I think it sets a tone,” he said. “As you are coming up the hill you are entering the so-called business district.”
Arand noted that making this a permanent four-way stop could set a precedent.
“I just hate to see another stop sign,” he added. “It seems like (drivers) are stopping at every block. Several other people have said they like the free flow of traffic.”
Arand said he received an email from American Family agent Carol Stieffermann stating she was opposed to the four-way stop. Her office is located across Church Street from Oltmann’s Funeral Home.
“She would like it removed because she doesn’t feel that it is necessary,” said Arand.
Erwin said there are safety concerns for traffic driving southbound, on a hill, on Church Street that must stop in ice or snow.
In Favor of Sign
Oltmann presented a letter from school bus driver Anna Stuesse that stated she is in favor of the stop signs. According to Oltmann the letter stated that the stop signs are, “Very important and she hopes the city will consider leaving it in place.”
John Morris, a State Street resident, said he travels through the intersection two to three times daily. He asked that the stop sign remain at the intersection.
“They may run the stop sign, but they are going slowly,” Morris said about north- and southbound drivers. ‘That gives me more time to respond.
“It seems like it takes a bit of stress off the intersection and the hill,” Morris added.
Alderman Dale Schmuke added that several other State Street residents spoke in favor of the four-way stop in September.
Few Traffic Problems
City Administrator Russell Rost said when the signs were first installed many motorists ran the stop signs while driving on Church Street. However, police have monitored the intersection and there are few if any drivers who drive through the intersection without stopping now.
Rost added that pedestrians walking to the funeral home do not cross at the intersection.
“About 90 percent cross in the middle of the block, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t protected by the slowing of the traffic,” he said.
Police Chief Norman Brune said the intersection has never had many car crashes.
“We have not had any traffic accidents at the intersection in many years,” he said, “and we haven’t had any since (the four-way stop was installed).”
Brune said the traffic has slowed in front of the funeral home since there has been a four-way stop.
“Obviously (vehicles) start from a stopped position,” he said.