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More streetlights to be installed near high school

Klatt Road too dark at night, New London officials say

By Scott Bellile

City and school district officials want to brighten the road for motorists and pedestrians passing by the north side of New London High School after dark.

The New London City Council approved a request for additional street lighting along Klatt Road on Feb. 12.

The item was recommended to the city council by the New London Board of Public Works on Feb. 4.

At that meeting, Joe Marquardt, director of business services for the School District of New London, asked the board of public works to consider adding streetlights to the stretch of Klatt Road between County Highway W and the east high school driveway, which is across from Starlight Drive.

“Over the last few years, either stakeholders from the school district or from the city or some residents have been talking about how to make the area along Klatt Road as safe as we can,” Marquardt told the board of public works.

The city installed an LED streetlight next to the crosswalk at the Klatt Road and County W intersection last fall.

Marquardt said this additional source of light helps, but visibility in the area could still be improved for pedestrians.

Marquardt cited data from a traffic study conducted by the engineering firm McMahon Associates in April 2017. McMahon counted vehicles around NLHS during peak times of traffic in the morning and afternoon.

McMahon recorded 308 cars turning at that intersection after school during the afternoon peak period of 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., according to Marquardt. He expressed concern over the danger that after-school traffic could pose to pedestrians during the winter when it is dark.

In the study, a McMahon engineer noted eastbound vehicles on Klatt Road pull in front of the crosswalk due to the grade of the road, forcing pedestrians to cross between or behind cars.

“What always makes me nervous when that happens is the car’s trying to do a safe cross so they can get across, but they’re having to pull out farther in front of that crosswalk area, so the visibility is detracted by those cars,” Marquardt said.

Visibility is not only poor on Klatt Road at night, City Administrator Kent Hager said.

“It’s equally dangerous in the morning as it is in the night when it’s dark,” Hager said. “You can’t see well around there.

A satellite view of New London High School overlaid with suggestions on proposed improvements at the high school and the nearby intersections. The Klatt Road/Highway W intersection is pictured northeast of the high school property. The Highway W/Beckert Road/Cedarhurst Drive intersection is seen where the roundabout is suggested.
Image courtesy of McMahon Associates/New London Department of Public Works

“I would say the safety factor here calls for [more lighting]. It called for it for a long time,” Hager said.

First District Alderman Robert Besaw said he struggles to see where he is supposed to turn there when he attends high school basketball games at night.

Public Services Director Chad Hoerth said he will work with New London Utilities to determine how many new lights should be placed on Klatt Road and where specifically.

New London Utilities would purchase and own the street lights, Hager said. The city would pay the utility a monthly service fee to power them.

The city is not prepared in the near future to act on McMahon’s recommendations to improve traffic safety from the 2017 study.

McMahon recommended shifting the Klatt Road and County Highway W intersection slightly south, reconstructing the right turn lane from County W onto Klatt Road into a 90-degree turn, shortening the length of the crosswalk, and adding fill to the approach near the stop sign to flatten the road.

Marquardt said he realizes such changes to the intersection are years away due to the anticipated cost.

Therefore, he said, improving the lighting on Klatt Road is an affordable short-term fix to perform in the meantime.

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