Lower speed limit proposed for South Duff

Matt Kuhns

Drivers from south of Ames on their way to Hickory Park or other businesses along South Duff Avenue may have to take it more slowly in the near future.

In response to requests from Southdale residents, the Ames City Council recently asked the Iowa Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on South Duff from 50 to 35 miles per hour south of U.S. Highway 30.

Part of South Duff also is U.S. Highway 69. The city of Ames must wait for approval from the Iowa DOT before changing the highway’s speed limit because it shares responsibility for the highway with the state, said Russ Cross, at-large city council member.

The DOT will evaluate traffic patterns and driving speeds along the entire length of Duff Avenue south of Lincoln Way before making its decision.

Cross said it may be difficult to convince the state of the need for a lower speed limit because, while the potential for accidents does exist, the area in question has not had major problems as of yet.

At-large city council member Judie Hoffman said, assuming the DOT does approve the request, the council will likely change the ordinance regulating the speed limit on South Duff without much debate.

“Everybody seems to be in agreement [on lowering the speed limit],” Hoffman said.

If the lower speed limit is implemented, Cross said the council plans to accompany it with tighter police enforcement.

Cross said it is possible that the DOT will recommend setting a 35 mph speed limit for all of South Duff, although the council’s request dealt only with the area south of U.S. Highway 30.

He said if the DOT recommended changing more area than that, the council would likely consult with the city’s traffic and transportation director before taking action.

Residents of Southdale proposed lowering the speed limit in response to increased traffic, Cross said. He said Southdale is “a sizable neighborhood” and home to an elementary school, and residents view the speed of the nearby highway traffic as a risk.

Tom Magel, a resident of Southdale since 1982, agreed with his neighbors’ assessment of the South Duff traffic as a problem.

South Duff has been a source of risk for several years, but “I don’t think anybody cared too much” until development picked up in South Ames, Magel said.

Magel said lowering the speed limit on South Duff should help the situation, but he suggested that the city could have solved the problem sooner had they extended a turning lane along all of South Duff.

Cross said Southdale residents had originally requested that the council approve an extended turning lane, as well as a traffic signal on one of South Duff’s major intersections.

However, Cross said the council has decided to wait and see the results of the traffic study before considering further changes.