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Merrifield Lions hope to reduce speed through town

In the wake of the 2009 death of 3 1/2-year-old Jack Larson, who was killed as he tried to cross County Road 3 in Merrifield, the Merrifield Lions Club is considering options to slow down traffic on that road through town.

At its monthly meeting Monday, June 10, Rob Hall, Crow Wing County assistant engineer, told club members the county is willing to work with the Lions to ensure that motorists are abiding by the 35 mph speed limit in town and to protect pedestrians crossing County Road 3.

Hall asked the club if slowing down the traffic or highlighting the pedestrian crosswalk was more immediately important. Many at the meeting agreed that encouraging motorists to go the speed limit was the first step in protecting pedestrians.

The club heard from a representative of Trafficalm Systems who showed the club two different types of radar speed signs. These radar driver feedback signs display the driver’s speed and can be programmed to flash amber or flash red when a driver is traveling faster than the speed limit.

The representative said that when this type of sign is placed by the official speed limit sign, drivers have much higher compliance with the posted speed limits. A similar sign is installed on Highway 18 coming into Nisswa.

The Lions would like to put one of these radar driver feedback signs on each side of Merrifield.

Hall said Crow Wing County is willing to pay for half the installation cost and sign materials if the Merrifield Lions pay for the other half. Hall said the county is willing to provide funding in this instance because it sees a strong need to reduce the speed of motorists as they go through Merrifield.

The Lions intended to see if Lake Edward Township would be interested in contributing to the cost of the driver feedback signs.