To alleviate concerns over liability, the Jones County Board of Supervisors is looking to lower the speed limit around the popular Amber Hula Hoop Tree, the most popular tourist attraction in the county outside of fair time.
The discussion came as a result of the issue being on the supervisor’s agenda for the second straight week Sept. 17.
Jones County Engineer Derek Snead investigated who actually owned the tree. Snead said upon measuring from the center of the roadway and digging up the old contracts and said the property line was right on the fence line of Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach’s property, and the county did own the tree.
In discussing what could be done to make things safer with all the traffic by the tree, Snead said an overuse of signs could do more harm than good. The supervisors discussed the possibility of lowering the speed limit by the tree down to 35 miles per hour from 55.
Sheriff Greg Graver was asked his opinion, and he said with the tree’s popularity, he didn’t see a downside to the move.
“It’s almost a carnival atmosphere out there on the weekends now,” Graver said and used an example from the previous week to make his point. “I got flagged over out there…for a birthday party of people who came over there to see it from Cedar Rapids.”
Supervisor Ned Rohwedder said when he stopped by the previous Saturday, there were 15 people there, and four cars pulled over to the side.
When discussing lowering the speed limit, Supervisor Wayne Manternach said he’d like to see the speed limit lowered all the way through Amber on E23. Graver said the area does see a lot of truck traffic, and Bobby Krum of Amber said a slower speed limit would be better.
The new speed would likely be posted just east of the intersection with Amber Road X44.
Snead said when speed limits have been changed in the past, a study is conducted by the Department of Transportation. He will check to see if such a study would be required. If not, the speed change would be put on the Sept. 24 agenda.