Friends of Bottle Hill Historic District approached the Borough Council this week about having the speed limit for Ridgedale Avenue lowered to 25 miles per hour and limiting truck traffic on the road, citing concerns about safety and preserving the area's history.
Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto said the borough would have to follow a similar process to the one it used to have the speed limit lowered to 30 miles per hour from 35 miles per hour about a year ago.
Madison Police Sgt. John Keymer said the speed limit reduction process, which includes traffic surveys and studies, was completed last summer. He said he would have no problem with the speed limit going down to 25 miles per hour.
"I just have to be sure it's done properly," he said.
In fact, Keymer wrote a March 24, 2011, letter to the mayor and council requesting they lower the speed limit from 35 to 25 miles per hour. Tsukamoto said the borough opted to lower it to 30 miles oer hour because they were concerned a lower speed limit might lead to their proposal being rejected by the state.
The plan incolves Ridgedale Avenue from its intersection with Central Avenue to where it ends at Park Avenue.
Ridgedale goes from being a county road to a municipal road at Central Avenue.
At that point, "its character changes," Keymer wrote. "The roadway narrows as it passes Madison High School from 40 feet to approximately 28 feet wide, with several areas as narrow as 26 feet. There are numerous small curves and turns in the roadway and nearly 200 private residences in less than a mile.
"The Cheshire Hime, a residential facility for the physically handicapped is located on Ridgedale Avenue, which results in electric wheelchairs using the roadway, as it is often difficult for them to use sidewalks."
Keymer said some Central Avenue School students cross Ridgedale Avenue daily and speed surveys and traffic studies showed the road "fits all of the criteria for a statutory 25 miles per hour residential speed limit."
Ridgedale Avenue as representing “a virtual textbook of American domestic architecture, encompassing a range of periods and styles including colonial, Romantic Revival—Italianate, Second Empire and Stick styles—and Eclectic Revival also known as Tudor Revival," according to the National Park Service.
The oldest property is the built in 1730, the home of a Revolutionary War patriot who also had a tavern and a forge on the property and is said to have entertained George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.
The newest are the apartments on the northern side of the street that were built for GIs returning from World War II, according to John and Kathy Solu who live in the original 1830 Roman Catholic rectory on Ridgedale and are helping to spearhead the group’s efforts.