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Falls' Notorious 'Speeder's Row' is Subject of Myth and Legend

The small stretch of roadway is a headache for speeding drivers, but it is also the subject of legend and lore about why that particular spot on Appleton Avenue is the way it is.

Every community has its own road, drive, or boulevard on the street grid that is a haven for speeders — or the men and women in uniform that catch those speeders.

However, no other stretch of concrete has the lead-footed reputation and lore surrounding it as a roughly half-mile stretch of Appleton Avenue in Menomonee Falls. If you’ve grown up in Menomonee Falls, you know the reputation of this street well. Even those who live far from the village have been warned of its inhospitality to speeders.

We solicited feedback from readers via the Menomonee Falls Patch Facebook page about the particular street, and it come flooding in.

“I used to work at Papa John's on Appleton,” said Roy Mitchell via Patch. “We used to watch the police sit and get people, our record for counting speeders was 26 in four hours.”

Whether Mitchell’s estimation is far fetched or not, it’s tales like this one that ticket-fearing drivers take into serious consideration.

For other law-abiding residents, it’s tough to travel the high road and not speed.

“I have been passed, honked at, and flipped off on that stretch of Appleton while going 35 mph,” said Dawn Umhoefer. “Keep bringing it, because I am not going any faster.”

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From roughly Elm Lane near to Woosencraft Drive farther south, Appleton Avenue is a six-lane boulevard that rises up a hill. The road seems far less busy than it was when it intersected Pilgrim Road and Menomonee Avenue minutes back. There's a lot of space.

It’s wide open. It’s even easier to exceed the 30 mph speed limit if you’re the only driver on the road — and there isn’t a caravan of local drivers to set the legal pace.

To some, it’s a surprisingly low speed limit for so much road, but plenty of drivers have greeted an officer through their driver’s side window there.

“I've been pulled over there, it was shortly after I moved here,” said Jenny McCarthy. “Now I've learned. It is surprising that it's only 30 there.”

Why So Slow?

Theories abound for why the road’s posted 30 mph speed limit is such a menace for chronophobic drivers. Some claim it’s a speed trap, while others believe the answer lies in the schools and homes along the street. Others are a bit more obscure.

“It's 30 mph for the same reason Falls is still called a ‘village,’” said Randy Shapaker.

All theories aside, Patch turned to Chief Anna Ruzinski for an explanation.

“The main reasons its posted at 30 mph is for the businesses along Appleton Avenue,” Ruzinski said. “There was a request way back when that the speed limit be lowered because of the amount of traffic entering in and out of that area. It was done before I arrived here.”

Ruzinksi said the high amount of pedestrian traffic during school dismissals at and is also a factor in keeping the speed lower.

However, there always seems to be a police presence on Appleton Avenue. Are they simply generating funds to write speeding tickets? Officer Jim Bowens did tell a speeders in an hour near Appleton Avenue and Pilgrim Road.

“It’s a revenue-generating road, just like County Line for both Germantown and  Falls. That should be changed to at least 40mph,” said Brian Bosch.

However, Ruzinksi would disagree.

“We aren’t out there seeing how many tickets we can give. We are asking people to comply with the law, however,” Ruzinksi said. “Sometimes it amazes me because it’s a stretch everyone seems to know about, but people continue to speed.”

Ruzinksi said that patrols are common on Appleton Avenue because it’s a major thoroughfare into the village — as are Pilgrim Road and County Line Road.

“You tend to see more enforcement on those main thoroughfares,” Ruzinski said.

It isn’t just speeders either. Criminals don’t often take the back roads if they are looking to leave a community quickly. Ruzinksi said they have caught several criminals on Appleton Avenue attempting to leave the village after committing crimes on Appleton Avenue.

“We’ve stopped somebody speeding on Appleton Avenue and it’s turned out to be a burglar leaving the village,” Ruzinksi said. “We caught the suspect so quickly we had to call the owners to inform them of the burglary before they even knew it happened.”

Active enforcement of speed limits in the village may also be paying off for the safety of drivers. Ruzinski said personal injury crashes have dropped 16 percent since the same time last year, and the number of injuries is down 21 percent.

Perhaps the best piece of advice about speeding there came from Cindy Hudson.

"With the high school right there, common sense should tell you why the speed limit has been left at 30 mph" Hudson said. "If you don't like it, leave your house 5 or 10 minutes earlier. Oh wait, there I go suggesting people use that common sense thing again."

Steve ® July 23, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I drive this stretch about 4 times a day. It is fun getting passed at 40+mph then watching them get nailed for a ticket. Laugh every time. What always gets me is at pick n save where the speed goes up. While going 30-35 I will get passed at 40 ish+, but when it goes up to 40mph 9 times out of 10 I will pass them later on. Then it goes up to 45 and they still are going 40. Now i'm really frustrated, speed up! You had no problem flying through a busy traffic area compromising safety but on an open road you all of a sudden want to go slower than the limit?! We own a hotel, please keep the patrols up on Appleton. If you need help, say using an unmarked truck, let me know.
Carl Engelking July 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Even when I drove this road again just to get a better feel for it before I wrote this, I found it was easy to push that 30 mph a little higher - especially in a 5-speed.
Jann July 23, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Not only is it a speed trap but they can't wait for the high school to let out. My parents are within siren ear shot of the area and my dad says he always knows when the high school kids have been let out. My dads an old guy and he thinks it sucks!
jerry mislang July 24, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Make it 35 mph, double the number of police officers on that stretch and you'll still double the number of tickets.
Steve ® July 24, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Why is that? Is it becuase it is "3" lanes? I guess I am so used to that road being 30mph that I don't feel the need to go above 35mph.
Mike Knight July 24, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Speed limits are a joke because everybody goes at whatever speed they feel like in their little special world whether it's the classic below the limit in front of you or riding your rear at warp speed. The enforcement is erratic, and justice is rarely seen for the real repeat offenders. I hate big brother stuff but this is one area I'd like to see cars implanted with microchip devices that would force people to drive at the speed limit unless they declare an emergency. Then you can turn into traffic at the perfect moment, maintain your space cushion, and travel at a consistent speed free of aggravation. Or they could just get rid of speed limits, and get people who are just recklessly driving.
Prior to the 30 mph limit, I believe it was 35 or 40, but there was not the amount of traffice or businesses along Appleton Ave at the time. The speed limit was reduced to 30 mph limit back in the early 1980's when the last crossing gaurd retired and was not replaced, they still did have the flashing yellow lights before and after school for a while, but those were eventaully removed, The speed limits does not bother me, what bothers me is although Appleton is a 2 lane road each way, now you have people use the right lane creating 3 lanes of traffic. The right lane is not an open lane for traffic but it's used as such. Some motorists merging or crossing Appleton believe these drivers will be making a right turn so they pull out and get t-boned. I've seen some bad accidents at North Point & Appleton. When motorists are coming 3 abreast with varying speeds from 30 to 50 mph, it's very difficult to cross Appleton. The right mark is marked as a right lane turn only at Woosencraft (Pick N Save entarnce) Why cannot it be marked as such for every other turnoff to avoid motorist from using the right lane as a straight shot?

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