Locals call for safety changes to Portage Rd. following Sunday's - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Locals call for safety changes to Portage Rd. following Sunday's fatal crash

Posted: Updated: Sep 15, 2015 11:47 PM

TOWN OF WINDSOR (WKOW) – Residents who live near the stretch of Portage Road where a 77-year old woman was killed in a car crash on Sunday believe safety conditions need to be improved there.

The Dane County Sheriff's Office said speed was a factor in the crash that killed Joann Wilkerson and badly injured her 71-year old husband. The sheriff's department alleges the two were turning into their driveway when they were hit by a car traveling behind them.

John Drury, who lives on Portage Road across the street from where the crash occurred, said the neighborhood has seen a spike in traffic in the last year or so.

He said he believes the increase is due to recent improvements to Highway 51. Drury said the changes resulted in fewer intersections between Highway 51 and local cross streets. So he said he thinks many drivers are now using Portage Road, which runs parallel to Highway 51, as an alternate route through town.

“People now use this as a thoroughfare to get to work and get back home and therefore we see increased traffic, increased speeding, from people not familiar with the area,” Drury said.

“It's not unusual to see people out here going 65 or 70 miles per hour,” he said.

The posted speed limit on that stretch of Portage Road, near Finch Trail, is 45 miles per hour.

Drury said the speeding is very dangerous – especially when drivers are approaching the small hill located in front of his home.

“Whether you're on top of the hill or at the bottom, your line of sight is really poor,” Drury said.

He said cars speeding towards the hill from either side cannot see what's occurring on the other side of the slope. There are several driveways leading from nearby homes into the roadway on both sides of the hill.

Sunday's crash occurred at the bottom of the hill.

Drury said neighbors were worried a tragedy would eventually occur.

“It was only a matter of time,” Drury said.

Diane Blank said she used to regularly visit her mother, who lived on Portage Road until she passed away in May.

She said the two of them were rear-ended on the hill in 2004.

“In my rear view mirror I saw this small truck approaching and thought, 'he's not going to see me, he's not going to stop,'” Blank said.

Blank said she and her mother were not seriously injured, but the crash sent their car spinning into a ditch.

Her husband, Richard, said drivers in the area are all wary of cars speeding towards the hill.

“When you're pulling out of your driveway, you have to look right, then look left, then look right again and wait to make sure another car isn't coming up that hill,” he said.

Drury said he and other neighbors are calling on the Town of Windsor and the Dane County Board to make changes they believe would improve safety in their neighborhood.

He said he would like to see signs, perhaps with flashing lights, warning drivers of the blind spots the hill creates.

Drury said he'd also like to see the speed limit in the area lowered and see more law enforcement officers to patrols in the area to crack down on speeding.

“All of us neighbors have talked about this,” Drury said. “Unfortunately it was one of our neighbors that this happened to.”

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