Revisions to Speed Limits Proposed
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The Selectmen plan to take up the review of various roads and their speed limits at their second meeting in March, 3/16. Last fall, a study committee, comprised of residents and public safety staff, reviewed the history of speed limits on various roads. Their recommendations are the basis of the possible revisions. Before moving forward with the recommendations, the Selectmen welcome feedback on the proposed changes.
Like many municipalities, the Town traditionally has had an array of speed limits depending on the roadway and its particular history. A couple of years ago, voters approved a new local option bylaw that set a standard 25 mph on all town roads unless otherwise posted. At the same Town Meeting, voters approved another local option bylaw that allows for the creation of safety zones with a 20 mph limit.
The study group is recommending that we be more specific in the establishment of the slower safety zones, targeting areas that abut special uses that warrant a slower speed –parks, playing fields, schools and primary school walking routes, senior housing. Thus, instead of the current safety zone that is defined as being all roads within a mile of the train station, 11 specific safety zones are recommended:
- School Street from Central to Pleasant – churches, daycare, multiple cross walks
- Lincoln Street – middle-high school and elementary school
- Norwood Avenue – major school walking route, abuts playing field
- Brook Street from Norwood to Summer – abuts playing field and tennis courts
- Rosedale/Arbella /Pleasant Street Ext. – near/abuts middle-high school
- Pine Street from Central up ¼ mile – senior housing, major intersection
- Beach Street from Tappan to Singing Beach – abuts park, major bike and pedestrian traffic to the beach
- Tucks Point Road – leads to/abuts park, narrow road with high pedestrian and bike traffic
- Ocean Street – abuts town beaches with heavy pedestrian and bike traffic
- Atwater Avenue – abuts summer camp area, playground, tennis courts
In addition, the recommendations include keeping the stretch of Beach Street from Union to Tappan at a previously approved 15 mph, and keeping the speed limit on the upper ends of Pine and School Street at 35 mph, also as previously established.
Lastly, two engineering studies are recommended, one along Bridge (starting at Ashland Ave)/Central/Union Streets to see if this area should also be 15 mph (the state would have to approve this special limit) and the other near Sweeney Park. As the stretch of Summer Street by Sweeney Park is a state road (Route 127) it would be up to the state to conduct the requisite study to see if a lower speed limit is justified here.
All other roads in town would have the standard 25 mph limit.
Striking the proper balance between safety of all users of our roads and sidewalks and the efficient movement of vehicles often bumps up against competing interests. These recommendations are aimed at achieving that balance. The Selectmen welcome additional input to the recommended changes before they make final decisions in the next month or so. Future work will continue to look at intersection configurations, speed enforcement and road design to foster a safe environment for all.