County considers lowering speeding limit on Hamborg Road


After a request by a resident and a study by the Winnebago County Highway Department, the Winnebago County Board is considering reducing the speed limit on Hamborg Road between Belvidere Road and Burr Oak Road from 45 mph to 35 mph. According to County Board member Paul Arena,  the Highway Department determined the change was justified. The county board holds its next meeting on August 12.

However, Winnebago County Board members Paul Arena and Brad Lindmark, along with Harlem Township Supervisor Gary Jury, will be hosting an August 10 community meeting at Harlem Township Offices to discuss the proposed speed limit change. 

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Some residents say that the speed limit should be reduced because hidden driveways make it hard to see. Others are opposed to the change, saying they've never heard of any accidents on that isolated road.

"Blind curve, blind hill, multiple driveways exiting on Hamborg": that's why one resident wants a lower speed limit. Others say the existing speed limit simply needs to be enforced.

Berneice Giles, who runs a food pantry and has lived in the area for 25 years, doesn't think traffic is heavy enough on Hamborg Road to justify a 35 mph speed limit so far out in the country. "I saw maybe 4 cars on it today." As for those with poor visibility from their driveways, she says, "They bought their homes and knew what the road was like before they purchased it."

Charlie Nelson, who lives on Burr Oak, says, "The area where I live has become a regular speedway on Burr Oak and Crockett... I'm not blaming the sheriff's department as they are understaffed."

Steve Schreier, Roscoe Township Highway Commissioner, says Harlem Township and Roscoe Township share responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of Hamborg Road between Belvidere and Burr Oak . Roscoe is responsible for the northern quarter. 

If the two townships are responsible for the road, why does the County need to get involved in changing the speed limit? Schreier explains that according to state law, "the speed limit on road district roads which differs from statutory maximum limits can be established only by the county board of the county in which the road district is situated." 

Schreier says his department changed one speed limit sign prematurely, due to a misunderstanding, but quickly put the original speed limit sign back up. He says they will wait for further instruction from the County Engineers office.

At the August 10 meeting, Paul Arena is also asking for suggestions of worthy organizations or programs to receive American Rescue Plan funds that have been designated for community organizations. Many non-profits have lost funding because of the COVID pandemic. 

UPDATE:  The Winnebago County Board voted unanimously to lower the speed limit to 35 mph - 16 in favor, 4 absent. See our follow-up story for details.

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