LONDONDERRY — The Select Board this month discussed the possibility of installing radar speed signs on state highways that pass through the municipality in an effort to calm traffic.
Vehicles speeding on Route 100 are “an ongoing problem,” Select Board Chair George Mora said during the board’s Nov. 16 meeting, and yard signs put up by residents along the route “have not been successful” in slowing traffic.
Mora said she continues to receive emails asking the Select Board to address the issue, though there is a growing understanding among members of the public that the municipality does not directly control the speed limit on state highways.
Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said he spoke with Marc Pickering, a Vermont Agency of Transportation project manager for the district that includes Londonderry, about the prospect of installing the stationary, pole-mounted signs.
The town would need to acquire a permit from the state for each sign it would seek to install within a state-owned right-of-way, O’Keefe said.
In an interview on Monday, Pickering said that the cost for the signs depends on the vendor but is generally $2,000 to $3,500, plus installation costs. O’Keefe floated a $4,000 total price tag at the meeting.
The signs are solar powered and can collect speed data that, in turn, can inform enforcement efforts, O’Keefe said.
No formal traffic study is required prior to installing the signs, according to Pickering.
Planning Commission Chair Sharon Crossman said that the “Main Street” working group within Project Londonderry, a town planning initiative, is so supportive of the signs’ installation that members have discussed potentially fundraising to defray the cost.
Mora said that she, O’Keefe and Treasurer Tina Labeau were intending to include a line item for the signs in next year’s budget, which voters will consider in March. There may also be grant funding available for the signs, Mora said.
However many signs it ultimately deploys, the town likely would want to place the signs “judiciously,” one or two at a time, said Mora, preferring “to see results from that expenditure before going all out.”
Mora said two locations where the signs might be most needed are on Route 100 near Heritage Family Credit Union and on Route 11 as drivers come downhill from the west.
Crossman said there are four primary gateways to the town, so the appropriate number of signs might be four to six. Selectman Taylor Prouty likewise said the town could “easily” consider as many as four signs.
Procuring multiple signs at once might enable the town to buy them at a lower per-unit cost, O’Keefe said.
At the same meeting, the board also briefly acknowledged the completion of a draft “road safety audit review” conducted by VTrans of the Main Street area in the town’s north village. The board had voted at its Aug. 3 meeting to ask the Windham Regional Commission to request the audit, according to minutes.
The town identified several safety issues related to this area, according to the audit, including excessive speed through the village; a “chaotic and confusing” intersection involving Routes 11 and 100, Old Stowell Hill Road and a shopping plaza; and a lack of sidewalks and safe pedestrian crossings.
The audit notes that a total of 21 vehicular crashes within the study area area found in a state database from 2015 to 2019, including a dozen at the shopping plaza intersection.
The audit features a range of recommendations with varying time horizons. Regarding the shopping plaza intersection, for instance, the report suggests the addition of a new signage and conducting a study exploring possible new designs for the intersection.
As a short-term recommendation for addressing the lack of pedestrian infrastructure, the report suggests that the town apply for a grant to fund a study that could “evaluate whether a sidewalk should be located only on one side or on both sides of (Route 11) and where crossing needs are.”
The audit did not collect speed data because of a paving project in town, and “no prior” data was available, the report states, so the “extent of the problem cannot be fully assessed.” The team recommended conducting a speed study and, following that, “conducting recurring speed limit enforcement campaigns,” deploying portable radar speed signs and installing curb extensions.
Mora said on Monday that the board will discuss the audit’s findings further at a future meeting.