AOT maps route to lower speed limit at GMHS

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

Representatives of Vermont’s Agency of Transportation came to Chester on Monday to look at Rt. 103 around Green Mountain High School and hear from the public on why the speed limit should be lowered from 40 mph to 30 mph there.

Evan Parks of the Family Center explains a point to the AOT engineers, left and Arne Jonynas, right. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Marcos Miller, Tyler Guazzoni and Mario Dupigny-Giroux listened to the comments of a handful of people, including Select Board members Arne Jonynas and Leigh Dakin, but also explained the process by which the speed limit on a state highway is changed. According to Miller, such decisions are made by the Vermont Traffic Safety Committee, which is made up of the Secretary of Transportation, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and the Commissioner of Public Safety.

The committee meets several times a year to consider such requests and Miller, Guazzoni and Dupigny-Giroux act as its engineering arm.

Dupigny-Giroux explained that it is not considered a “high crash area” but that studies have shown that people are speeding on that stretch of road – especially as they are leaving town heading south past the school.

Miller noted that any application to the committee should come from the town and that if it’s been many years since those speed limits were established and if conditions have changed in the interim, it may be a good time for the state to take a look at it. He also noted that he and the others present would do the traffic studies required for making the decision to change the speed limit.

Select board member Leigh Dakin asks a question about sign congestion.

Those attending pointed to several changes in the area, including the expanding Drew’s plant with heavier truck traffic and the busy Chester-Andover Family Center as well as the American Legion and the adjacent field it purchased for holding events.

The car wash and self storage units also came after the speed limits. Pointing to Friday nights in ski season, participants also talked about seasonal differences.

At 11 a.m., the meeting moved to the Family Center and the Heritage Deli and Bakery for a site visit before returning to Town Hall to wrap up the meeting.

Miller said he thought it seemed reasonable to ask the committee for a speed limit change. He added that the agency could help with new signage.  He pointed to radar signs as particularly effective, and said they can be put up on a state highway at the town’s expense with a state permit.

Police Chief Rick Cloud noted that the town has applied for such a permit in the past and it was denied. The engineers suggested trying again.  When Todd Parah, Green Mountain High School’s transportation coordinator,  asked about school zone signs that flash when school is in session and also lower the speed limit, Miller said there were a number of more assertive sign strategies that can be pursued.

Miller said they would also try to delay the installation of “School Zone” road stencils scheduled for June until later in the summer to keep them from being worn away prematurely.

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  1. Randy Miles says:

    I think if we really want to do what is best for our schools, kids and town of Chester is this.

    1. SIDEWALKS on the same side of the High School to the new bridge with the sidewalk on it. Sidewalks with curbs that kids can walk and ride bikes on safe instead of a main road. Nobody wants to get hit at 40 mph or 30 mph or at ALL.

    2. Signs yes signs to let travelers know we have a school there when entering our town. Flashing ones at school time would be nice. Yes signs do work if done right. I think we should start with this before we go and change the speed limit and make it a radar trap for travelers. This is a main road and I have kids in both schools and want them safe! I went to school board meetings and talked to heads of both schools and town boards over the last 4 years. I have heard nothing but we are looking into it. Well I would bet Grants are there to give a big help for the much needed sidewalk as well as one in front of the Chester-Andover Elementary School.

    CAES is very unsafe and a sidewalk in front would make it safe for kids and it would flow better at drop offs. Look much better as well. Anybody with kids in that school should know what I mean. We should start with what would really be needed for our kids. SIDEWALKS and signs first! Then maybe we can talk about fixing the drop off and pick up situation at the High School. Thank you