KAUKAUNA — Crooks Avenue on Kaukauna’s far south side has become increasingly busy over the years, and set between Tanner Elementary to the west and the Kaukauna High School to the east, it also gets its share of pedestrian traffic.
So it’s no wonder that a suggestion Sunday morning in the Kaukauna Community News Facebook group has generated significant discussion.
Group member David Vander Loop asked, “I would like to request a study be done at the crossing of Ann Street and Highway 55. I was terrified watching grade school children being petrified trying to find an appropriate time to safely cross 55.”
Student safety at busy crossings has a heightened urgency in Kaukauna after middle school student Justin Johnson was accidentally hit and killed in 2016 while crossing the street on the first day of school.
Some commenters in the group suggested a crossing guard for the intersection, however others pointed out that many people try to cross outside of traditional hours covered by crossing guards.
In fact the recommended crossing for students is several blocks to north at the Dick’s Drive-In intersection, which has a pedestrian warned crossing.
In a response posted in the thread, Kaukauna Mayor Tony Penterman said the city’s hands are tied because Crooks Avenue also is Wisconsin Highway 55, so the state has the final say on any stoplights.
Recently the Board of Public Works approved another study of the intersection with Ann Street.
Penterman said the Engineering Department will work with Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to complete traffic counts and analyze intersections for function and traffic signal warrants.
Penterman wrote that after he was elected he requested the city install stop and go lights at the intersection of Crooks and Ann St. due to the amount of backed up traffic with cars attempting to turn to get to morning and afternoon pickup/drop offs of school.
The city did a traffic study and submitted it to the DOT, but they determined the intersection did not meet criteria for the installation of lights.
A couple years later (maybe 2012-’13) Penterman said a woman was killed crossing that intersection and once again he requested a traffic study.
The DOT again stated their findings did not meet their criteria for lights.
Studies have been done in 1992, 2001, 2009 and 2013.