APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The City of Appleton, in conjunction with the Appleton Police Department, is working to create a new unit focused solely on traffic safety.
“We are taking on the issues of pedestrian and traffic safety and excessive vehicle noise in our City with a holistic approach,” said Mayor Jake Woodford in a release shared Wednesday announcing the program.
The ‘holistic approach’ Woodford describes entails these organizations agreeing to launch a Traffic Safety Unit pilot program that will start in June. During the program, the unit will focus on addressing community and traffic safety concerns like speeding, reckless and distracted driving, as well as nuisance complaints.
Appleton Chief Todd Thomas explained the importance of this unit sharing that one of the main reasons they decided to create this unit was so that the department could better allocate its resources and time.
Thomas explained that during the summer months the department finds itself facing added strains due to large summer events. Therefore, according to Thomas, this new unit would help dissipate those strains as they would primarily focus on monitoring those events.
“When we have large events… Or just a lot of traffic downtown we are pulling out resources from the north side of the city, the south side of the city to come deal with those complaints… People have to wait, suspects have to wait. Sometimes suspects get away before we can get to a scene so it really does impact crime in the city when we have these events,” shared Chief Thomas.
And ready to help the Appleton Police Department keep the community safe is the city.
The City of Appleton plans to contribute to this effort by conducting its own study. The city will conduct a street design study where they would look at different streets and find ways these streets can be modified to help encourage safe driving.
“We know that enforcement has a very important role, but once the police drive away and it’s a couple of weeks later and everyone has forgotten about that enforcement, the thing that keeps people from driving at unreasonable speeds has to do with how we build the streets,” shared Eric Lom, City of Appleton Traffic Engineer.
Lom shared multiple changes that can be made to city streets to get them to slow down. These options included:
- Making roads slightly narrower
- Adding raised intersections
Lom noted that a popular street they will be looking into during their study is College Avenue.
“We are looking at options to alter the design on College Avenue to try to reduce speeds and some of the reckless driving issues,” shared Lom.
The Traffic Safety Unit pilot program is set to begin on June 1 and will come to a close at the end of 2022. City officials and law enforcement will then assess the study’s effectiveness before deciding to implement it into the budget. The safety engineering study is expected to be finalized by the end of 2022 or early 2023.