April 27, 2017
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HI 49 / LO 39

Fix It: Lighting on Washington Road

Reader wonders if poor lighting contributed to fatality



Today’s problem

Carol Leibhan wrote, “I believe a major contributing factor to the tragic death of the young man on Washington Road (on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016) was the poor lighting on that section of road. As you head east on Washington Road from Highway 31, you’ll find this section of road is very dark. Especially in the area of 55th Avenue, which is poorly marked, down to the (traffic signal) at 47th Avenue.

“Also, the traffic on this section of road has increased significantly in recent years with all the development in the area. In addition, the speed limit on this section of road remains at 45 mph. This is compared to the other major inlets into the city from Highway 31, (52nd St., 60th St., 75th St.) which are all well-lit roads with a lower speed limit. The city (or Somers) I’m not sure (who) controls this section of road, needs to both add lighting and possibly reduce the speed limit in this section of road.”

The background

The Kenosha News reported in November that a 19-year-old man was killed trying to cross Washington Road. The man had gotten off work at a nearby restaurant and was walking home when he tried to cross the four-lane road east of Green Bay Road, according to police.

He was struck by a car driven by a 20-year-old Kenosha man who was eastbound on the 5500 block of Washington. The road is a wide boulevard there, with no crosswalks or sidewalks.

The Kenosha Fire Department was unable to revive the man, and he died at the scene. Kenosha Police Lt. Thomas Hamm said the driver stayed at the scene and was cooperative...Hamm said there was no indication that either the man or the driver were impaired when the accident occurred.


The News requested the Kenosha Police Department reports for the accident and Fix It read through them. There was no mention in the police reports that the lack of street lighting in the area was considered a factor in that accident.

Fix It visited the area.

It is pretty dark at night since there are no street lights in the median or on the sides of that section of roadway. The posted speed limit is 45 mph. Two of the other roadway inlets to the City that Leibhan mentions do have lower speed limits. The 5500 block of Washington Road does have an incline to the west which makes it hard to see oncoming eastbound traffic, say if you are on 55th Avenue headed north at the stop.

Fix It contacted the City of Kenosha to ask if there were any plans to improve that roadway by adding street lights. Fix It received an e-mail response from the City of Kenosha Public Works Deptartment: “Per Cathy Austin, Deputy Director of Public Works, Washington Road west of 39th Avenue is the responsibility of Kenosha County Public Works.”

So, in the usual merry-go round, Fix It is now contacting the County.

Some traffic safety facts

Preliminary data on a Wisconsin Department of Transportation website lists 47 pedestrian fatalities in 2016 vs. 53 in 2015. In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This averages out to one crash-related pedestrian death every 2 hours. In 2013, over 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal injuries. The CDC recommends pedestrians increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight, wearing reflective clothing and crossing streets at designated crosswalks or intersection.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analysis of data involving pedestrian fatalities in 2013 indicated that more occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections and in the dark. The highest total percentage of pedestrian fatalities, 26 percent, occurred between 6 and 9 p.m. The average age of pedestrians killed was 46.

Alcohol involvement in fatal pedestrian crashes — on the part of either the driver or the pedestrian — was 49 percent, with an estimated 34 percent of pedestrians and 15 percent of drivers having alcohol in their systems.

Milwaukee had six pedestrian fatalities, representing about 19 percent of total traffic fatalities; New York City had the most city pedestrian fatalities with 178. California had the most state fatalities with 701.

Dumping on Springbrook Road

This issue was raised last week, and Fix It has received a response from Kenosha County Highway Director Gary Sipsma. He wrote:

“Yes, the segment of Springbrook Road you are referring to is County Highway ML and under the jurisdiction of the County (Fix It mistakenly thought it was the Village of Pleasant Prairie.) Unfortunately, this segment of highway has historically been a location that people dump items. The County Highway Department regularly patrols this area and picks up all sorts of items that people dump on the highway right of way.

“There really is no need for people to do this. The local municipalities provide excellent services for people to properly dispose of items. Years ago, dumping on highways used to be much worse. Since the local municipalities have provided services for residents to dispose of waste, we have much less larger items to pick up.

“Although it is amazing how fast our dumpsters fill up with all of the debris and litter that we pick up on and along highways throughout the County.”

Sipsma wrote that the bike and tires pictured are not on the highway right of way, but were dumped on private property. The right-of-way extends 33 feet from the centerline one each side of the highway. Sipsma wrote, “The County... does not pick up items on private property.”

Fix It also wants to say congratulations and best wishes on your retirement, Gary Sipsma.


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